While 2020 became the year no one could have possibly predicted, Paul Hargreaves, CEO of fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre reflects on the year that was and gives his top food and drink trend predictions for 2021. 

LOCAL SHOPPING

Paul Hargreaves says: “There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits.  Smaller shops, independents and butchers, for example, are doing phenomenally well and this is a trend I can only see continuing.  With the benefit of convenience and better-quality produce available on your doorstep, without queuing and large crowds, there’s a real opportunity to build sales and loyalty. 

“I expect to see more independents getting involved with click and collect, ecommerce and moving online.  There’s a real opportunity here and I’m surprised some haven’t been faster to act already.” 

RESTAURANT FOOD AT HOME

Paul Hargreaves says: “I wouldn’t expect typical out of home, restaurant dining to be back to ‘normal’ until the end of 2021.  The pandemic really has been habit changing, with consumers recognizing that they can buy good quality, tasty food for less, and enjoy it in the comfort of their own home! 

“I’d also expect to see home delivery of restaurant quality food continue to gain in popularity.  Many restaurants were fast to react to this back in March and there’s a real appetite for staying at home and eating well.  

“With companies like Deliveroo leading the way with Deliveroo Editions, I’d expect to see this trend continue with new cuisines and restaurants with pop-up style limited edition offerings to create excitement.  I would also expect to see more quality ready meals coming into the market to rival COOK who already do this incredibly well, but as yet have had very little competition.” 

RECESSION FOOD TRENDS

Paul Hargreaves says: “In January I expect we will be entering the second dip of a double dip recession, and I think we’ll see food and drink trends and shopping habits in line with what has happened in previous recessions. 

“When times are tough, confectionery and chocolate products perform incredibly well acting as comforting treats at home.  Patisserie and small luxuries will also be at the top of everyone’s shopping list for the foreseeable!”  

HARD SELTZERS

Paul Hargreaves says: “The biggest category approaching us at the moment with new products is actually a micro category, hard seltzers.  A new trend originating in the US, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these brands and variants enter the market over the coming months.  These alcoholic carbonated waters, packaged in slimline cans, are fairly low in calories, with a similar strength to beer, at around 4% – and very much aimed at the young female market.  We are introducing a couple of brands to our portfolio in 2021 so I’m keen to see how the market develops.” 

NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

Paul Hargreaves says: “On the opposite side of the coin, non-alcoholic drinks are seeing a resurgence.  With the introduction and success of speciality brands like Seedlip, posh alcoholic drinks for adults are now starting to come through as serious contenders.  

“While we may be drinking more at home as a result of lockdown, perhaps 2021 is the year to cut back and look for tasty alternatives.  Alcoholic kombucha has proved popular in the States, but we’ve yet to see it really gain traction here to match the non-alcoholic version” 

VEGETABLE JERKY & VEGETABLE APPRECIATION

Paul Hargreaves says: “Jerky is a big hit in the UK, and in the next year I think we’ll see more vegetable snacking options enter the market.  More recently we’ve seen mushroom jerky – and with increased noise around veganism and meat-free products, I expect this to be the first of many! 

“So many vegetable products are dressed up as ‘meat’ or other traditionally non vegetarian/vegan foods – perhaps 2021 will be the year we celebrate the great taste of vegetables without disguising them as other products – and enjoy them as they are meant to be!” 

NEW LOOK LUNCH

Paul Hargreaves says: “Of course, Covid-19 has impacted the look of the workplace and with much of the workforce still working from home, breakfast, lunch and snacking is already looking very different. 

“2021 may become the year we say goodbye to the traditional meal deal style lunch of sandwiches, crisps and a drink, replacing this with more prevalence of soups, hot food to go and snacking platters.  We’re all looking for something a bit different to brighten and break up the day, and with a whole host of kitchen appliances available at home, I think we’ll see some new and inventive products breakthrough.”

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