COVID has caused an increase in health food consumption. Currently, 56% of adults try to increase their intake of superfoods, with avocados, seeds, grains and fermented foods topping the list of the most beloved. By 2026 the global superfood market is expected to reach $209.2 billion . However, the increased consumption of health foods is not limited to superfoods. Purchase of ingredients with high fibre, protein and calcium content  is on the rise. With almost half of consumers upping their intake of antioxidants, the health food trend is here to stay. Below are a couple of highlights for 2021 forecasts.
2020 has welcomed a revival of traditional healthy fats. Thanks to the rise of the ‘ketogenic diet’, we have witnessed a dramatic reversal in the perception of low-fat products. From adding ghee to a morning coffee to finding smashed avo on every restaurant menu including high fat produce in one’s diet is the new normal. Thanks to the reported health wonders of the ‘Mediterranean diet’ and nutritional research which shows the scientific benefits of olive oil for the body, we are beginning to see the resurgence of this product both as a cooking fat and as an addition within other foods, particularly infused in snacks.
While the reduction of sugar is not a new trend, it has consistently gained traction as one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Chocolate is just one of the areas where big brands are creating reduced sugar options. Armed with increased nutritional information, the general public is moving towards the premium and dark chocolate markets. Following on from the rise in natural chocolate we predict that the consumption of raw chocolate will boom in 2021. With an increased desire to consume food high in antioxidants and vitamins, raw chocolate is the superfood almost too good to be true. Packing a hefty nutritional punch, with less sugar and providing a deeper more earthy flavour than white or milk, raw chocolate will be the next big health food trend in 2021.
Sustainable with little need for water and suiting different regional soils, carob is set for a resurgence in 2021. High in antioxidants, calcium, fibre, iron, protein and amino acids, carob is the next superfood. Already making its way into nut butter’s and tea, it is likely to be included in sweets and smoothies for an extra nutritional punch.
Adoption of specific lifestyles reflects a growing consumer awareness of the impact of dietary choices on the planet. With one-third of consumers choosing to reduce their meat consumption , the demand for plant-based innovation has never been so high.
While animal products will always remain popular for some, 2020 welcomed an increase in plant-based foods. There has been a boom in consumers turning towards veganism, just over 1.1 million in the UK, and that number set to double by the end of 2020  . However, it's not just vegans who are contributing to the UK’s meat-free industry. Half of Brits actively reduce their consumption of animal products  . We have witnessed the growth of the flexitarian, and the valuation of the meat-free industry is expected to rise to £658m in 2021 .
The demands for more plant-based foods have been influenced both by climate awareness and a promise of health and longevity. Research proves that diets high in plant-based foods contribute to good health and with unhealthy diets shortening 1 in 7 UK lives, plant foods are popular choices . More than 20% of ShelfNow’s products are certified as plant-based and this is consistently increasing thanks to the introduction of new producers on the platform. Look out for healthier alternatives to traditional snacks, such as roasted chickpeas instead of fried potato crisps, oat and nuts milk as an alternative to dairy, and nut and seed spreads.
The rise in environmentally responsible consumers has increased the needs for sustainable food options. From eliminating single-use plastics to embracing edible packaging, producers in 2020 have embraced food which does good for the planet.
Consumer expectations will steadily increase in 2021. Yet balancing the costly increase for green packaging with consumers' desire for low price products is tricky. Costs for sustainable packaging options are 25% higher than typical single-use plastics. Government regulatory changes reflect the desire for increasingly greener packaging. By 2022 packaging that neglects to include 30% recyclable content will be subject to tax.
This expectation isn’t just seen at a government level. 81% of Millenials expect businesses to state their social responsibility, including their sustainability efforts. The race to create sustainable packaging has proven innovative in the food and drink sector. We have seen the increased use of bioplastics, a more transparent labelling system, lightweight packaging and the rise of eco-friendly shipping materials. So what can we expect in 2021? As more companies commit to a greener future we can expect an increase in eco-friendly innovations, creating a more sustainable supply chain and providing biodegradable and compostable packaging solutions.
Health-conscious eating will dominate 2021’s food trends. Expect to see an increased market for antioxidants and superfoods and a focus upon plant-based and greener packaging. Consumer habits will shift towards less processed whole foods and will include sustainable options, influenced by the growing awareness of climate change.
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