If you’re a certified foodie, you may be wondering what food trends and hits are hot right now. Here you will find some of the most important topics that will most likely dominate the nutrition sector in the near future:

More plant-based foods on the shelves

In the coming year, expect more emphasis on plant-based foods. Although meat and poultry will still remain as staples, there will be more plant sources emerging in the next couple of months. Also, more attention will be given to foods that contain Vitamin C and other nutrients. You can also expect more vitamins and supplements that promise to boost the body’s immunity.

Aside from that, blended foods will be in vogue for the new year. It is evident from the success of the blended burger wherein mushrooms and ground beef are combined and challenged the norm of the all-beef patty. It may be the year of the battle between flexitarians and vegans. The task is to find a balance between plant and animal-based proteins and not in eliminating meat altogether.

Food upcycling will become more prevalent

In the past, the practice of upcycling foods was only relegated to the alternative food categories and in health stores, but expect it to come into the mainstream soon. Upcycling means using ingredients that would traditionally end up wasted and transforming them into dishes in their own right.

According to statistics from the UN Environment Program, around a third of the food produced for consumption every year is wasted, the total amount of which is estimated to be around 1.3 billion tons. Through upcycling, food producers can add value to excess ingredient amounts that would have otherwise gone to waste.

The advent of garbanzos

The lowly garbanzo came to popularity during the early 2000s when hummus migrated from the Middle East and came into the deli sections and diners in the US. The chickpea is still continuously being adopted by many American homes and it will continue to do so well into the next year.

People are getting excited with experimenting chickpea flour and aquafaba, which is the water used for soaking the chickpeas. Flatbreads and pie crusts made from garbanzos have more or less become staples in many frozen food sections nowadays. It is now possible to find socca flatbreads and faina-based pizza crusts in most retail grocery stores.

Moreover, dairy-free ice cream and pastries made with aquafaba instead of milk may also become even more popular in 2021 when people will start to clamor for healthier, plant-based versions of desserts.

Flexitarianism will be more viable

It is almost impossible to convince meat eaters to quit cold turkey and go vegan, especially with how aggressive and in-your-face most vegans can be. However, it might be possible for them to meet you in the middle by adding more plant-based food in their diet.

Convincing omnivores to give up eating animal-based food products completely will never be easy, but teaching them to reduce the amount that they eat is much more feasible. According to a recent study, almost 60% of millennials are game when it comes to adopting a flexitarian diet.

More people are interested in swapping out a couple of meat-based meals in exchange for plant-based ones every week. Alternatively, they can also reduce the number of animal products in their regular dishes in exchange for more vegetables and fruits.

More food companies would also be promoting plant-based products while still producing their regular products with the addition of more plant-based ingredients. Rather than alienating their meat-loving customer base, they choose to find the middle ground that would be best for both parties.

Meal kits gain more popularity

People were forced to stay at home this year due to the pandemic. It is the reason why many discovered that cooking at home is quite an enjoyable activity. Even though life seems to be on the verge of normalcy soon, the trend of pre-made meal kits and health food boxes is still going strong. These meal kits provide you with the enjoyable experience of cooking, but without the stress of buying and preparing the ingredients.

Even if you are busy with work and family, thanks to pre-packed meal kits, you can still enjoy a homecooked meal without all the hassle. Moreover, many of these meal kit companies focus mainly on local food, eco-friendly and sustainable production processes. Aside from that, they cater to people who are on specific diets and/or have specific preferences when it comes to food.

Market analysts predict that the meal kit delivery market will become a $20 billion industry within the next five to six years. Even if life turns back slowly to normal, people who have discovered the joys of using meal kits are unlikely to go back to their take away diets anytime soon.

More food delivery services

Because dine-in services were either extremely limited and even banned in certain areas, food delivery and takeout services have gotten even more popular out of necessity. Dining establishments that have the foresight to predict what will happen to their businesses were the first to offer contactless orders for pick-up and delivery. They managed to still thrive through the quarantine period.

2020 saw the emergence of “ghost kitchens”. These are creative restaurant concepts that do not have a brick-and-mortar location but offer pick-up and delivery options instead. Some even provide deliveries only. These establishments usually work through social media and/or register with popular delivery apps. Aside from that, they work out of their own kitchens.

Now, the problem here is that the restaurants based on buffets might not be able to survive until this pandemic blows over. Even if they manage to re-open when everything gets back to normal, will their now more cautious patrons return?

Unusual flavor combos

Although there are always some exotic flavor trends that come with every year, most of them are gimmicky and would fade as fast as they came. There are exceptions though, like the fifth flavor umami that has more or less become a staple in many kitchens these days. Innovative cooks are now combining the rich taste of umami with sweet flavors, such as fruits, caramel corn, and custard to name a few.

While it is true that some exotic flavor combinations become instant hits, some are admittedly an acquired taste and would take a couple of brave tries before they become familiar. However, because of the pandemic with more and more people being forced to eat at home, they are now more open to exciting and exotic flavors, which might be the new trend in the new year.

Climatarians will rise

Just like it was every year, climate change will be front and center in everyone’s agenda for the next years. It will also play a part in food manufacturing. Vegans have been doing their part in the fight against climate change by avoiding meat, but it seems like there will be a more comprehensive solution is near.

A part of this solution is the elimination of all food that comes with a high carbon footprint, like meat and dairy. Another solution is to eat locally grown produce and those that are in season. In addition, you have to stay away from food products that exploit animals. Some of the foods that you can add to a climatarian diet include algae, grains, invasive plant species, seasonal fish, and certain insects.

Climatarian diets that refer to those with low environmental impacts are becoming popular, experiencing a growth rate of about 150% in the last five years.

Alternative protein sources

One of the most questionable, sensational, and controversial food predictions for next year is to replace meat with another high-protein source, which is insects. Even though insects have been popular in certain Asian countries, they have not really become an option in the west. However, some companies are trying to break that boundary by introducing to the market insect-based protein bars. Hopefully, this will open the flood gates that will allow insect-based proteins into the mainstream.

Plant-based proteins are also growing in popularity. However, whey protein is also beginning to increase its share of the market. 2019 was the year when the “impossible burger” became a very controversial topic as it was the first time when a plant-based meat product came close to tasting like the real thing. It seems that these impossible food products will continue to rise in popularity next year, so expect more of them to come out.

Food transparency

Consumers nowadays have become more curious about where their food comes from. They are also beginning to let food manufacturers know that they do not appreciate marketing practices that conveniently omit certain details about where their products came from. For instance, the label might say that a certain product is made in the USA, but the ingredients were imported from other countries; countries that might not have the same stringent food safety regulations.

Aside from the likelihood of food transparency becoming a trend, it is also possible for a law designed to protect the interests of the consumer to be set in place. As a consumer, you have the right to know how your food was sourced and processed.

The food industry has been changing along with the customer’s needs, and for next years the selection is looking really interesting and healthy. Also, just like all trends and eras come back around, we’re all about to bring the best one back: being babies. Yes, food is that amazing.

Superfoods, probiotics, broths, and sauerkrauts

If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us is to be healthier in every aspect of our lives. Food suppliers are including in their lists “ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system”.

Breakfast goods

Finally, the most important food of the day is being taken into consideration with the honors it deserves. We’re talking eggs, pancakes during the week, sous vide egg bites, cereals, and all the classics, with its vegan options of course.

The renewed basics

Talking about classics, let’s mention the basics. This year has been great to create new plates and with that, have come a lot more ways to use the products our grandparents used, but yummier. Sauces, spices are now transformed into “hearts of palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt, and ‘meaty’ vegan soup”.

Coffee to eat, please

You read it right. The human obsession with coffee has turned into something more special and necessary, and we will have new creations regarding this exotic and mystical bean that has provided so much energy and life to our routines. We’re talking “coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters, booze (…)  coffee yogurt” and a lot more!

Grown-up babies

This is a particularly interesting category since it goes both ways, adults, and babies. It works for both, and we will find more baby food trends including “on-the-go squeeze pouches full of rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots, and omega-3-rich flaxseeds”. Some of the options wholefoods.com suggests are: “Whole Foods Market’s new Organic Baby Food: Pear Strawberry Rhubarb, Apple Pumpkin Blueberry with Ground Chickpeas, Apple Butternut Squash with Ground Oats and Turmeric; Happy Baby Organics: Sweet Potatoes & Olive Oil with Rosemary”. Talk about nutrients for babies and smart sweet snacks for adults!

What Are People’s Dining Preferences Now?

With people stuck inside their homes for more than a year, restaurants will focus more on giving their patrons a sense of genuine hospitality and a place where they can socialize once the economy reopens. The focus will be shifting from getting the most exotic ingredients and outlandish dishes to giving their customers comfort and warmth.

What Would Happen to Online Cooking Classes?

During the lockdown, people discovered how fulfilling it was to cook their own foods. Most of them even learned how by watching online cooking classes. Even now as the restrictions are starting to ease up, many are still interested to learn how to cook new dishes from all over the world. Therefore, it is safe to say that online cooking classes will still be popular this year.

Would Restaurants Still be the Same?

With the economy slowly but surely opening again, dine-in restaurants will also start to open their doors. Although many people feel relieved that they can eat out again, many still have lingering fears of COVID-19 in their minds. Restaurants and other establishments will heavily prioritize sanitation and health standards above all else.

Businesses want to put their customers’ minds at ease so they will do whatever they can to convince them that it is perfectly safe to come back. Restaurants will show more of their behind-the-scenes operations on their social media accounts to show people that they take cleanliness and health seriously.

Would People Still be Cooking at Home?

Yes, many people would still choose to cook their own food. Due to the lockdowns forcing a lot of those who have not held a frying pan their whole lives to learn how to cook all of a sudden, several of them also discovered that it was an enjoyable experience.

Expect to see more people buying all kinds of kitchen paraphernalia, from pots and pans to pasta rollers. Everyone suddenly became home cooks and they would not change anytime soon.

Will There Be More Plant-based Food Items?

People also became more aware of their health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have started to eat healthier. Among the trends that rose from last year are plant-based meat substitutes. These are perfect for those who still love the taste and texture of meat, but are watching their cholesterol levels.

Burger joints have started offering plant-based burgers in their menus last year and there is a very slim chance that they will go away very soon.