It may only be the beginning of the year but the media is already looking ahead to what are likely to be the most popular foods of 2021. A variety of chefs and blogs have already made their predictions about upcoming food trends and there are several recurring themes.

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How do you predict trends?

There is a lot of research that goes into trying to predict or even create food trends. For example, a food PR organisation may try to promote a specific ingredient or brand. Food PR can also come from a new recipe book or blog, or scientific research citing the benefits of a particular foodstuff.

It is a mixture of scientific research and intuition that governs many food trend lists. One retailer may present an A-Z of ingredients, whilst another may focus on societal attitudes.

Let’s look at 10 predicted foods trends for 2021:

1. Reaction to the pandemic

As we have seen from 2020, eating out in restaurants is increasingly difficult in a world of coronavirus. It also means less shared meals generally; however, it does mean more opportunities to eat at home and experiment in the kitchen.

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2. Sustainability

Sustainability has also become a key issue in recent years, which is likely to continue. It encourages shopping locally and a reduction in meat-eating, with more and more plant-based alternatives becoming available. Also connected is upcycling, which is when the parts of ingredients that would otherwise have been thrown away are repurposed for new dishes.

3. Asian flavours

Sales of rice wine, rice vinegar and mirin are up, reflecting an increased interest in East Asian cuisine. In another part of Asia, Himalayan salt is seeing a rise in popularity. Middle Eastern flavours are also on the rise.

4. Cultural expansion

It is not just Asian flavours, as the internet provides easy access to cuisines from all over the world. Ethiopian flatbread and West African jollof rice are just two dishes that are becoming easier to find in Europe.

5. Fermentation

Retailers are reporting increasing sales of fermented dishes, such as kimchi. Pickling is also becoming more popular, perhaps inspired by increased Nordic and Eastern European influences.

6. Carob

Carob originally gained popularity as an alternative to cocoa or chocolate, but it is valuable in its own right as a sweetener high in antioxidants.

7. Alternatives sugars

Also good for diabetics is the rise in alternative sugars, including maple sugar.

8. Coffee

Coffee is no longer just a drink but also an addition to smoothies, granola and yoghurt. ‘Bean to cup’ coffee machines are also becoming more popular in homes.

9. Oil

Standard olive oil is still popular, but alternatives such as coconut oil, walnut oil and pumpkin seed oil are becoming increasingly available.

10. Supplements

It has been reported that many people started to use more supplements in the last year, so it is likely that standard ingredients will come reinforced with the likes of vitamin C.