These are the biggest food trends for 2021

Laura Hampson
Seaweed is set to have a moment in 2021 (Getty)
Seaweed is set to have a moment in 2021 (Getty)

When the coronavirus pandemic started last year, flour and pasta proved popular purchases as we turned to comfort eating and home baking.

In fact, a Tesco report reveals that 40% of the people it surveyed said the first lockdown reignited a passion for cooking and, since then, a further 86% said they would continue to cook more at home.

As we ease into our third lockdown, home cooking is certainly here to stay but there are a slew of other trends we can expect to see in the food sphere this year as well.

Read more: How our lifestyles became less healthy in first lockdown

From plant-based cooking to less waste and falling in love with mushrooms all over again, we’ve asked the supermarket giants to reveal what they think will be the biggest food trends of 2021.

We’re taking cues from our Nordic neighbours

Pickling, smoking, curing and drying, we’ve got more time in the kitchen in 2021 which means we’ll be trying out new techniques inspired by our Scandinavian neighbours.

Jamie Robinson, Tesco executive chef adds: “The popularity of Scandinavian ways of cooking and eating are spreading quickly around the world. While the cuisine has mostly been enjoyed at restaurants, we predict that this culinary trend will continue to grow in popularity and be seen more in our homes in 2021. What sets this cuisine apart is that it focuses on the way of cooking rather than specific ingredients.”

More people will be going meat-free

April Preston, director of M&S food product development says: “As more people are embracing meat-free days in their diet, our vegan-friendly Plant Kitchen range is also growing. For the first time, we’re expanding our plant proteins ingredients and introducing a delicious new pea protein into dishes.”

The rise in people leading plant-based lifestyles show 'no sign of slowing' (Getty)
The rise in people leading plant-based lifestyles show no sign of slowing (Getty)

Derek Sarno, Tesco director of plant-based innovation says the rise in vegan eating we can expect in 2021 is largely due to innovations in plant-based cuisine.

“In the last few years, plant-based and flexitarian eating has seen huge growth, and it shows no signs of slowing. Brands are adapting to this by increasing their offering in this arena,” Sarno explains.

“In 2021 a good quality vegan alternatives will be the norm, so expect more improvement on meat and dairy mimics, especially as plant-based options are already popping up next to their animal-based equivalents in supermarket aisles.”

Seaweed will be 2021’s superfood

Waitrose saw a 23% increase in seaweed sales in 2020 compared to 2019 and a 71% increase compared to 2018.

Read more: How supermarkets are upping their vegan game

Jenna Doran-Twyford, cooks iIngredients buyer at Waitrose says: “Seaweed is an incredibly versatile ingredient and it’s great that customers are becoming more aware of its uses. We’ve noticed our customers wanting to understand the true nutritional value of what they are eating, as well as becoming more adventurous in the kitchen. By trying out different cuisines, we expect seaweed will continue to grow in popularity.”

ASDA also predicts that Japanese food like sushi will be big in 2021 as it’s “great for vegans” and there’s still a focus on Japan due to the delayed Olympics.

Doughnuts are the new banana bread

While we spent most of the first lockdown perfecting our banana bread and sourdough crafting skills, ASDA predicts that doughnuts will be the star of 2021. “Filled, craft, sugared - all varieties welcome! – a real ‘treat yourself’ moment,” an ASDA spokesperson says.

Waitrose found that views of its baking recipe pages grew by 86% last year and it predicts Portuguese custard tarts, Victoria Sponge cakes and pancakes to be top of the baking repertoire for this third lockdown.

We'll be reaching for doughnuts when we want a comforting treat this year (Getty)
We'll be reaching for doughnuts when we want a comforting treat this year (Getty)

We’ll be salivating over the humble mushroom

Sarno says that while mushrooms have been consumed for centuries, in plant-based cooking it’s just starting to come into its own.

“With more and more different types of mushrooms becoming widely available, home cooks have the opportunity to be more adventurous. We may be familiar with a classic Portobello Mushroom which frequently appears in burgers, but there are so many other varieties to try,” Sarno adds.

“Cluster Oyster Mushroom steaks or King Oyster Mushroom sliced into medallions in a quick and tasty Asian-inspired stir-fry make great use of the vegetable’s flavoursome and meaty texture.”

The less waste, the better

“Consumers will become more mindful of waste and sustainability in 2021 – both food and packaging,” an ASDA spokesperson says.

Read more: Walkers has teamed up with KFC to release fried chicken crisps

ASDA predicts that consumers will be looking for products with less packaging or recyclable packaging and products that are better for the planet too.

Veggie gardens will continue to rise in popularity as well. “Anything that connects consumers with nature – growing our own [fruit and vegetables] and gardening will continue,” the spokesperson adds.

“Walks in nature make us appreciate but also recognise our planet for what it is.”

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