Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), a global leader in nutrition and partner to the world’s leading consumer brands, has released its view on the five food and beverage trends that will influence the way consumers eat and drink in the new year.
Based on in-depth research from ADM’s proprietary OutsideVoice consumer insights platform, the report provides a breakdown of each trend that will come to the fore in the 12 months ahead. Each of these trends is strongly influenced by behavioral and societal changes that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic, including heightened feelings of anxiety and stress, shifting priorities, changes in social connectivity and the adoption of a more holistic approach to wellness.
“The global health crisis has changed consumer preferences in new and unexpected ways,” ADM president of nutrition Vince Macciocchi said. “We are seeing a heightened demand for foods and beverages that support immune systems, enhance our mood and reduce our environmental impact, driven, in part, by emerging human tensions. This has provided a unique opportunity for brands to develop disruptive new products that will forever change the way we eat and drink. It’s going to be a year of innovation, marked by significant breakthroughs in nutrition.”
The five trends that will spur innovation in the new year include:
1. A more proactive approach to nourishing the body and mind
ADM research found that 31% of consumers are purchasing more items tailored for their health, and 50% reported a preference for foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.
According to ADM, the desire to influence health and wellness through foods and beverages is creating new opportunities for nutrient-dense products with functional health benefits aimed at supporting the immune system, enhancing mood and sustaining energy. Sensory factors like flavor and color are also playing an increasingly crucial role. During these stressful times, consumers are gravitating toward foods and beverages with bright and exciting colors that indicate citrus flavors with naturally occurring vitamin C, as well as products with familiar, nostalgic flavors.
2. Sustainability takes center stage
More than two-thirds (65%) of consumers said they want to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions. This is a key reason why 32% of consumers buy sustainably produced items, ADM noted.
“The growing awareness of our collective impact on the environment has elicited increasing demand for companies to demonstrate their sustainability commitment beyond just the end product to responsible sourcing and operating standards,” the company said.
For example, ADM pointed out that specialized feed to reduce methane emissions in livestock is helping address consumer interest in more eco-friendly protein sources. New farming practices such as regenerative agriculture are being used to enrich soil, resulting in carbon drawdown and improvements to the water cycle. Renewable plant-based materials such as cornstarch and even seaweed are appearing in consumer packaging to reduce landfill waste.
3. The gut microbiome emerges as the gateway to wellness
Approximately 25% of global consumers suffer from digestive health issues. Of those, 50% claim that it has a moderate or severe impact on their overall health. The pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in a more holistic approach to health, which includes a greater understanding of the foundational role the gut microbiome plays in an individual's health.
Products targeting the microbiome have been shown to help address specific metabolic conditions and issues such as weight management, immune system support and better emotional well-being. This, ADM said, provides fertile ground for food and beverage innovation with functional solutions like prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics that support microbiome function.
4. Plant-based food boom expands beyond the bun
Globally, 56% of consumers are trying to eat more plant-based foods and beverages, pushing alternative proteins into an increasingly mainstream phenomenon. Demand for plant-based protein products is rapidly expanding beyond just burger analogues to new and novel products, including alternative seafood like shellfish and shrimp, plant-based cheeses, ready-to-eat protein snacks and more. Alternative meat products also continue to evolve, with new technologies like 3D printing and protein fermentation playing a role in driving innovation. Additionally, ADM said new plant-based meats on the horizon include whole-muscle products like steak and chicken breast, lunch meat, bacon and more.
“The dairy alternative category, an early leader in the plant-based nutrition space, is growing to encompass other formats such as yogurt, ice cream, butter, spreads and creamers. To stand out in the dairy aisle, products must deliver more protein than traditional dairy and feature a nutritional label fortified with vitamins and minerals or functional ingredients like probiotics,” ADM said.
5. Transparency builds consumer trust
Consumers now expect food labels to provide greater transparency around the entire product life cycle. This is helping drive the demand for locally sourced products as consumers seek greater clarity on where the ingredients in food and beverages come from. In fact, 26% of global consumers look for the country of origin on food and drink labels.
ADM further explained that the quest for cleaner ingredients extends to flavors and colors, with many seeking natural alternatives, whether it be elderberries to give a product a rich blue hue or peppermint and mint to elicit an energizing burst of coolness in foods and beverages. Additionally, sweeteners such as monk fruit and stevia are growing in popularity as consumers seek out natural ways to reduce their sugar intake.
According to ADM, the global pandemic has drastically changed consumer perceptions of the world, influencing the way consumers eat, drink and connect with one another.
“With these nutrition trends gaining steam in 2021 and beyond, ADM is positioned to provide brands with the innovative solutions required to meet customer needs in an ever-changing marketplace,” the company said.