Food trends in the new year

Few industries saw more upheaval in 2020 than food and restaurants. Just about all had to alter their business models for some length of time. Some closed permanently. Their suppliers had to change things up too, and more of us spent more time in our home kitchens. As far as what we eat, some trends have grown in popularity, while others are emerging. Get a taste of what we’ll be eating and how in 2021.

Plant-based variety

Plant-based meats burst on the scene a few years ago and have proved quite popular. Though they’re most common in burger form, companies such as Beyond Meat and Soulfresh offer sausage. This year will see plant-based substitutes for even more food items such as steak, shrimp, and bacon. It’s coming for dairy too, with plant-based ice cream, cheese, and yogurt poised for a breakout. A third of Australians are trying to either eliminate meat from their diets or reduce their consumption, so the more variety the better.

Low-ABV or alcohol-free drinks

As many Aussies are going meat-free or eating less meat, even more (nearly 40%) are reducing their alcohol consumption or largely abstaining. When they do want a drink, those with lower alcohol content can provide a social lubricant without the payment coming the morning after. People in their 20s are leading the charge, and lockdown had people rethinking their drinking habits. Heaps Normal launched just in time, and Modus Operandi released 0.5% ABV Nort last year. The Wild Beer Co.’s Lilipip has all the body of a higher ABV beer at just 2.7%. For cocktails, Giancarlo Mancino offers a low-alcohol vermouth.

Gut health

The pandemic has made a lot people re-evaluate their baseline health and caused others to develop poor eating habits. Both sets will be looking for ways to reset their gut microbiomes with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Kombuchas from Mojo and Remedy and bars from Nutra Organics are quick, tasty ways to ensure healthy gut bacteria are working to improve immune health. Some probiotic Gutsy Ferments might be the perfect complement to your plant-based bratwurst.

Sustainable sourcing

In a trend accelerated by the supply chain disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are asking more questions about where their food comes from and what resources went into raising it. Whether it’s concern for animal welfare, water conservation, soil preservation, or any of a whole host of reasons, consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced food. Chains like Mad Mex have shown that sustainable supply chains can be workable and profitable.

Delivery apps

Another trend accelerated by COVID-19, ordering delivery via smartphone has risen by leaps and bounds since March. There are now more than 4 million users of Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Menu Log, and market newcomer DoorDash in Australia. Individual restaurants will have to weigh whether the fees these apps charge are worth the extra exposure and convenience of a potentially unreached customer base and outsourced delivery operation. Lockdown restrictions might be gone, but a large chunk of the population is now used to ordering up quickly and easily.

One-stop shops

It was a survival tactic during lockdown, but now it’s again a source of convenience that’s likely to remain and gain strength into 2021. Restaurants pivoted to offering groceries and ready-made meals when they had surplus ingredients and couldn’t welcome guests into their dining rooms. Places such as Sydney’s Marion wine bar and Ragazzi have made the changes permanent, with Morning Market and Fabbrica continuing pandemic-inspired operations while the parent restaurants serve sit-down diners.