2020 proved to be an unexpectedly pivotal year for many companies and industries, in particular the food and drinks industry. While we saw the rise of delivery services and home cooking, we also saw the closure of many small businesses and restaurants alike in the wake of lockdown measures and dipping demand.

In its latest podcast, the IFT (Institute of Food Technologists) outlined some of the key trends likely to rock the food industry in 2021. Here is a quick rundown of some of our favourites:

Ghost Kitchens

Ghost kitchens are professional-grade food preparation spaces used for the production of delivery-only meals. These typically cost less to rent than a dine-in premises, and often offer more professional equipment than would available in a smaller restaurant’s kitchen.

Though not a new idea, the lockdowns of the last year have (to no-one’s surprise) driven food deliveries through the roof, while physical dine-in meals have plummeted – largely due to them currently being, you know, illegal.

The trend seems set to continue. Though many premises will be keen to open as soon as possible, many entrepreneuring foodies have established online-only restaurants that will continue to operate in that way even after lockdown. People, it seems, love the convenience of a takeaway – and I’m one of them.

Less Sugar

Over the last decade the world, bleary eyed, has begun to wake up to the realities of sugar overconsumption. In the US and the UK, it is now recommended that only 10% of your caloric consumption should come from added sugars – a figure that has now been suggested to be as low as 5%.

The concerning growth of obesity in the West (28% of adults in the UK are obese, and a further 36% are overweight) goes hand-in-hand with our increasing overconsumption of sugary foods and beverages.

A reduction of just 5% in sugary caloric consumption is estimated to save the NHS c.£500m annually, prevent around 4,100 premature obesity-related deaths, as well as stopping around 200,000 cases of tooth decay.

More Mushrooms

These fun-guys are set to take over the culinary world. Propelled by environmental and dietary awareness, mushroom-based meat alternatives are due only to increase in popularity as the associated technology matures.

Mycelium – the below-ground root-like substructure that underpins fungal growth – can be used for a variety of functions. Under the right climatic conditions, it can be grown into meat-like structures, leather and plastic substitutes, and even self-repairing materials.

Further than this, elements of mycelium are being developed to act as bitter note inhibitors in food – the aim being to reduce the need for added sugar and salt that normally serves this purpose.

With all the mushroom-based innovations due to come out in the next few years it seems like there won’t be mush-room for anything else!

Feed Technology and Safety Awareness

One universal side effect of the Covid pandemic has been the increased awareness of hygiene procedures that has accompanied it. Food preparation spaces, as well as delivery services, have had to adapt to a new way of operating that minimises human contact.

The increased reliance on technological processes associated with the pandemic has also somewhat forced the food industry to bring itself into the 21st century. An increased awareness of supply chain management, for instance through blockchain or other technologies, could increase efficiencies and traceability – something that will become increasingly important in a post-pandemic world.

If you’ve got a food business and you’re wondering what your next steps should be, don’t hesitate to give us a call.