ADM shares top 5 food trends for 2021: ‘It’s going to be a year of innovation, marked by significant breakthroughs in nutrition’

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: ADM
Photo: ADM

Related tags Adm coronavirus microbiome Immunity

Influenced by feelings of stress and anxiety, shifting priorities caused by the ongoing pandemic, and changes in social connectivity, consumers are taking a more holistic and proactive approach to health and wellness, according to a new report from ADM.

Based on a compilation of seven research reports by ADM and findings from its proprietary OutsideVoice consumer insights platform, the report highlights how consumer preferences have shifted and what to expect in the coming year.

“We are seeing a heightened demand for foods and beverages that support immune systems, enhance our mood and reduce our environmental impact, driven in part by emerging human tensions.

"This has provided a unique opportunity for brands to develop disruptive new products that will forever change the way we eat and drink. It’s going to be a year of innovation, marked by significant breakthroughs in nutrition,”​ said Vince Macciocchi, president, nutrition, ADM.

1. Proactive approach to nourishing the body and mind

ADM research found that 31% of consumers are purchasing more items tailored for their health, and 50% report a preference for foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients. This growing trend will create new opportunities for nutrient-dense products with functional health benefits aimed at supporting the immune system, enhancing mood, and sustaining energy, reports the company.

“Sensory factors like flavor and color are also playing an increasingly crucial role. Consumers are gravitating toward foods and beverages with bright and exciting colors that indicate citrus flavors, with their naturally occurring vitamin C, as well as products with familiar, nostalgic flavors during these stressful times,”​ said ADM.

2. Sustainability takes center stage

Over two-thirds (65%) of consumers want to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions, a key reason why 32% of consumers choose to buy sustainably sourced products, according to consumer research from The Hartman Group.

“The growing awareness of our collective impact on the environment has elicited increasing demand for companies to demonstrate their sustainability commitment beyond just the end product to responsible sourcing and operating standards,”​ notes ADM.

“New farming practices, such as regenerative agriculture, are being used to enrich soil, resulting in carbon drawdown and improvements to the water cycle. Renewable plant-based materials such as cornstarch and seaweed are appearing in consumer packaging to reduce landfill waste.”

3. Gut microbiome emerges as gateway to wellness

Approximately 25% of global consumers suffer from digestive health issues, according to Euromonitor​, and of those, 50% claim that it has a moderate or severe impact on their overall health.

“The pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in a more holistic approach to health, which includes a greater understanding of the foundational role of the gut microbiome on each individual’s health,”​ said ADM.

“Products targeting the microbiome have been shown to help address specific metabolic conditions and issues such as weight management, immune system support and better emotional well-being. This provides fertile ground for food and beverage innovation with functional solutions like prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics that support microbiome function.”

4. Plant-based food expands beyond the bun

Globally, 56% of consumers are trying to eat more plant-based foods and beverages, pushing alternative proteins into an increasingly mainstream phenomenon across major food categories, ADM consumer research found.

Demand for plant-based protein products is rapidly expanding beyond burger analogues to a number of novel products, including plant-based shellfish, shrimp, and cheeses, ro ready-to-eat protein snacks, and other plant-based product innovations, said ADM.

At the same time, ADM noted the continued rise and evolution of alternative meat products driven by new processing and manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and protein fermentation.

“New plant-based meats on the horizon include whole-muscle products like steak and chicken breast, lunch meat, bacon, and more,”​ noted ADM.


Additionally, the dairy alternative category, an early leader in the plant-based nutrition space, is growing to encompass other formats such as yogurt, ice cream, butter, spreads, and creamers.

“To stand out in the dairy aisle, products must deliver more protein than traditional dairy, and feature a nutritional label fortified with vitamins and minerals or functional ingredients like probiotics.”

5. Transparency builds consumer trust

Consumers now expect food labels to provide greater transparency around the entire product life cycle, which in turn, is driving demand for locally-sourced products as consumers seek greater clarity on where their foods and beverages come from, said ADM.

A Euromonitor International Health + Nutrition Survey fielded in February 2020, found that 26% of global consumers look for the country of origin on food and drink labels. Additionally, according to Nielsen, 73% of consumers globally agree that they feel more positively about companies that are transparent about where and how products were made, raised or grown, noted ADM.

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