Food and Drink Trend Insights 2020

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  • Post last modified:September 29, 2020
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Over the last months, I have talked to dozens of food and drink start-ups, producers, distributors, marketers, start-ups, and consultants. We all agree all are having an unprecedented time and the wind of change.

We have to admit, it is so hard to predict the future nowadays. What we can do is, evaluate the change we already forced to face in the food and drink market in 2020.

Staring into the face of an uncertain period of quarantining followed by what most estimate will be the worst economic downturn of the last 50 years, is sobering. This affects the average customer spend, money spent on luxurious products, people think twice before buying.

In the time of coronavirus, consumer’s demands have been evolved into a new type of buyer persona.

Social responsibility is outlined in Change, the corporate brands have to protect and support people, including employees, consumers, and frontline workers.

From an article from Bain, even before the pandemic, The luxury industry was undergoing fundamental change as companies faced mounting pressure to become more customer-centric, digital, agile and sustainable.” 

Frankly, in my opinion, in order to digest all the evolution, I read more online contents than ever in my life, listened to podcasts even when riding my bicycle.

What are the trends in food and drink?

Plant-Based Products.
Paper bottles for drinks, spirits and beers.
Immunity improving products and ingredients.

What does the consumer want?

The rise of mindful consumer

The mindful consumer wants to know much more about where their food comes from. They choose natural, whole foods that are minimally processed and contain ‘store-cupboard’ ingredients.

Consumers are more vigilant, their mindset has evolved to become more resilient, and respond to their eco-system. People learnt how to make sourdough bread, read lots of books about healthy diet and do it yourself contents everything about food and drinks.

Furthermore, an estimated 24% of beer consumers, in the USA, are brewing their beers home with commercial kits. Besides, there are successful eCommerce companies available. Homebrewing is getting very important and rising topic in Turkey as well. Even you can brew your own stout beer home.

People will use the results of data collection and biological tests to modify their diets and lifestyles to improve their brain health, states of mind, and moods.

The adventurous consumer seeks inspiration, new culinary experiences and focuses on authenticity. 

38% of consumers agree that they trust a product with a shorter ingredients list more than they do a long one.

Many brands are catering to these requirements, such as Oddbox, a home delivery service that features “wonky” vegetables that might otherwise be rejected.  They may look odd, but they are just as nutritious as any other vegetable.

71% of consumers agree that “I enjoy trying world cuisines I haven’t cooked before at home.”

Plant-based products

Plant-based dishes appeal to them for health and environmental reasons. They also happily experiment with meat alternative products. Most brands are generating their own options for vegan consumers.

More than $1.1 billion has been invested in alternative proteins so far in 2020, according to a report published by FAIRR.

Source: alternative proteins, the race for market share by Mckinsey.

According to an article from Mckinsey, the market base for alternative protein is around $2.2 billion compared with meat market approximately $1.7 trillion in 2019. In addition to that, plant-based food sales increased by around 20% in countries with economic wealth.

Plant-based products sold 23% more in groceries which located products in the animal-based meat section, by the research completed by Kroger and the Plant-Based Foods Association. Groceries like Waitrose, already created a new aisle, very close to the entrance and next to the ready meal section.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

On the other hand, big brands acquire or merges with successful plant-based one by one in order to to be part of the vegan market. Starbucks is teaming up with oat milk maker Oatly and plant-based protein companies Beyond Meat and Omnipork in mainland China. KFC, Burger King and Mcdonalds developed their own plant-based burgers and products in order to attract vegan consumers.

“Health and wellness, including healthy eating, has been one of the most important consumer trends in China. If products are associated with a healthier lifestyle, they can experience rocketing growth in China.”

Derek Deng, a partner with Bain and Company

I always find myself undecided, hesitated between healthy snack which is a boring banana or sinful bag of chips in a coffee shop at a station whilst I buy a black filter coffee. Thus, I mumble because it isn’t fair, there aren’t any homemade, healthy, natural snacks available, nowhere outside. Are you having the same experiences?

UK government recently started new campaign against obesity and unhealthy diet in order to be part of that new wave of change. Misleading information about every FMCG packed food we had, will be more obvious. Companies in the future will face more difficulties to create new definitions to hide glycose syrup.

For instance, on the same BBC post, The food review from Mr Dimbleby, co-founder of the Leon restaurant chain, takes issue with the language used to sell food. Phrases such as “low fat” might mean “high starch” and labels such as “free-from” and “less” are sprinkled around without context, “if not quite lies, are at least wilfully misleading”.

Inspire from the Action and Identify opportunities

Millennials and Generation Z members are demanding more action from the producers for sustainable consumption and innovation. Some new start-ups, producers aim to reduce food waste, plastic – package waste, on the hand they fight against food poverty as well. By doing that, they organically promote their brand to their target buyer personas.

Seven brothers brewing Co and Kellogg’s became partners to replace some of the wheat and barley in the beer with re-usage of Kellogg’s corn and rice flakes to produce tasty new beers while using by-products. Brilliant right?

Another example of a by-product recycling process is from the USA. Coffee and cereals are the go-to options for most of us. So, Consumer Brands and Dunkin’ are working together to create two new cereals made with Dunkin’ coffee. Two sku will be released in August 2020.

oddbox is another good example. They are UK based e-commerce food delivery start-up who fights against food waste and works with farmers and producers and source ‘too oddly’ shaped, ‘too oddly’ sized, or overripe veggies and fruits. Oddbox sends order boxes to their final subscription-based consumers.

Paper bottles for drinks, wine, and spirits!

Diageo has invented “world’s first paper bottle” made from organic pulp-paper based, less than 5% plastic-based, sustainable materials. That said, the bottle will be able to fully recycle. the technology is the product of a newly established partnership between Diageo and venture management company Pilot Lite, named Pulpex Limited. The company has already established a partner consortium with companies including Pepsico and Unilever. Brands are expecting to launch their own branded paper bottles in 2021.

PepsiCo has been working on more sustainable packaging. In 2019, the company announced it would test aluminium cans for Aquafina water products in some retail locations this year. 

This new bottle could be a big development in food and beverage makers’ efforts to cut back on plastic and operate more sustainably.

Carlsberg is also developing its ‘paper’ beer bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fibres that are both 100% bio-based and fully recyclable.

Some other bottle producers managed to create an alternative for wine bottles as well.

Reduction of plastic usage and responsible consumption are top sustainability concern for consumers and companies. We already started seen the action from big retailers. Sainsbury’s reusable bags are good to store potatoes and onions.

Consumers will continue to want to know more stories about corporate sustainability commitments.

People are demanding action and giant food companies are working beneficially together.

For example, Nestlé, Arla Foods, and Unilever are among the dozens of producers and retailers that coming together to be a part of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership,

This aims to improve animal care, working conditions and provides a consistent global approach to dairy sustainability in commercial relationships between dairy buyers and processors. The burden of buyer-specific programmes and audits is reduced, restoring the focus on what really matters: continuous improvement on dairy farms.

I think in the next step, consumers will reward, companies who take actions and tackle important social or climate issues. Those brands will be more recognized next ten years that lead new era of conscious consumption. With the help of governments like the United Kingdom, I hope people will be more mindful consumers and producers will be more selected and evolved by the nature of the economics.

During the pandemic, we all understand the importance of mental wellbeing. More consumers are considering mental health alongside daily diet and exercise. This holistic health and wellness approach has inspired consumers to seek products that can improve mood and boost brain health, as well as those with emerging functional ingredients.

Small producers already started to react on that. Here is another brilliant product take away, Marley Mellow Mood Peach Raspberry Relaxation Tea from the US features mood-enhancing botanicals such as valerian root, chamomile flower, lemon balm and passionflower, which— according to the manufacturer—calm the soul and ease the mind.

Here is another great example to sustainable farming. Bowery farming in New York, reimagining farming from the ground up. They are growing wildly, safe, sustainable veggies like parsley, basil indoors.

Immunity is the new hype

We hear that every day. We, are the consumers, are actively looking for food and drinks that naturally improve immune health.

Ingredients with potential to improve immunity, are the new hype.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

35% of millennials in the USA, the research is done by Mintel, say products that support immune health would motivate them while buying a nutrition or meal replacement drink.

Also, connected with the same research, In Europe, a majority of individuals take vitamins, minerals or supplements to improve immune function. Although on the market, there isn’t any leading.

Branded product on the market available. To be honest, I don’t like the taste of Kefir. Its benefits come from the living organisms thus it is great a probiotic to your kid especially.

Immunity improving functional claims are most prominent in baby foods.

Brands doing their best in order to improve immunity game on the table but when we look at the end products, and on shelves, we are not able to see much different option.

In my opinion, the most intriguing discovery connected to the immune functions was the gut microbiome. You should watch Kurzgesagt’s YouTube content to understand the importance of your gut microbiome in below.

The beneficial relationship between the immune system and gut has inspired a new era of research. Any change in gut flora directly influences the immune function and vice-versa. Even that said, the microbiome has an effect of depression. What if your gut really talks to your brain?

The saying “you are what you eat” has never been more relevant.

Food and drink trends 2020 in a nutshell

Vitamins, minerals, botanicals, probiotics, and prebiotics are the key ingredients used in the immunity market.

Ginger and cinnamon

Seoul National University has a granted patent, claiming the use of ginger and cinnamon extract in food compositions to improve intestinal health and to enhance immunity. Did you notice it again? microbiomes!

Black rice bran

The main components of black rice that lend it almost all of its health benefits are anthocyanins. These proteins work as powerful antioxidants and serve a number of functions like fighting cancer, preventing cardiovascular diseases, and maintaining health brain functioning. Its fibre content is another major factor that we need to consider.


With benefits for joint health and skin appearance, collagen has been an emerging healthy ageing ingredient.

Collagen is an opportunity for food and drink to take inspiration from the beauty industry and create healthy ageing products that help people prepare for longer lifespans at any age.

Black garlic

Black garlic is actually just traditional white garlic that has been put through a curing process. In essence, fresh cloves of garlic are stored at high temperatures and humidity for some weeks. This curing process, known scientifically as the Maillard Reaction, turns the garlic black and changes its chemical nature.

The ageing process that turns white garlic into black garlic leads to a decrease in the compound allicin (which is responsible for garlic’s unique odour). Black Garlic is a potent antioxidant, plus it is easily absorbed and less toxic than other compounds typically found in garlic. Many of the benefits of black garlic are based on SAC, which becomes the most abundant component following the ageing process.


Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kind that are flavoured and loaded with sugar like Turkish or Greek yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of vitamin D.


A root native to Japan, kudzu has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. With its thick consistency, this stomach-soothing herb makes a great thickener for sauces or a creamy base for smoothies.

It is believed to help strengthen your digestive and circulatory systems, help calm your body, and potentially treat hangovers and headaches. Kudzu usually comes in dried form, which is used to make a thick, creamy pudding.


For example, celery, inulin dietary fibres, and polysaccharides, have the ability to increase cytokine secretion and the activity of natural killer cells, thereby boosting immune response.

Recent patent innovations are directed at launching the immune health-enhancing products for seniors and individuals with a weak immune system.


One certainty is that existing trends around digital-first workplaces and online-enabled business will accelerate and keep changing the eating habits.

Companies who help consumers do that well are going to have a lot of demand for a long time to come.

Economic pain is inevitable. Yet survival and even growth are possible in the coming environment. And while I can only do so much with my limited financial resources to help the businesses and charities I love to do well through a hard time. Together, we’ll get through this.

Speaking truth, it is hard to see a whole clear picture. What we can do is, invest more time in terms of risk management, clearly define all your supply chain and operational costs, evaluate and look deep into your sourcing channels. It is clear it will be more difficult; winter is coming.

It is not all about your company’s management, all companies linked to each other in the same food supply chain.

Find ways to reduce your procure to pay cycle, push your financial abilities to its limit, increase your payment terms and reduce your risks, manage your shipment risks better with the logistics partners.

I have seen so many basic mistakes during pandemic and people does not easily accept the responsibility of the wrong decisions they have made. And our duty to help every professional to thrive together.

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