Chickpeas poised to be top ingredient for 2021

11 Jan 2021

Plant-based foods are continuing to top the list of trends in the food and beverage space with chickpeas, global flavors, meat alternatives, non-allergen foods and organic products set to be top priorities for consumers in 2021, according to EHL Ingredients, a UK-based firm.

For several years, research has shown that plant-based foods are on the rise, and this trend prediction is in line with the growing industry focused on these vegan alternatives. Last year, Innova Market Insights ranked plant-based foods as the No. 2 trend for 2020; it was also the No. 2 trend the year before.

Chickpeas poised to be top ingredient for 2021

However, chickpeas have only recently come into the limelight as they have become a staple ingredient not only in meat alternatives but also in products such as pasta, rice and ice cream. In fact, the ingredient has become so well regarded that brands have been able to build empires by featuring this ingredient. Banza, a chickpea-based pasta brand, became the fastest-growing pasta brand in the U.S. for 2019.

Global flavors has also been a recurring theme in product launches in recent years. McCormick released its Flavor Forecast in October that placed international flavors at the top of its up-and-coming trends list for 2021. Although world populations have been limited in physical moment, their appetite for global cuisines has only increased as people cook more frequently at home. Brits have particularly taken to ethnic flavors, according to the report, as they adds variety and healthy alternatives to at-home menus. However, no longer are regional cuisines like Indian or Asian sufficient. Now, consumers are looking for authentic flavors with EHL predicting that flavors such as Zhug (Yemeni), Mimita (Ethiopian) and Bezar (Arab Emirates) will rise in prominence in the coming months.

Allergen-free foods are becoming more important as food allergies become more prevalent. In the United States, One in four Americans, or 85 million people avoid purchasing products with the top nine allergens, spending $19 billion to do so, according to research from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). This large amount of spending is only growing; the FARE report found that allergy-friendly food sales are growing at 27% annually. One of the major ingredients that consumers avoid is gluten, which has given rise to a plethora of alternative flours such as buckwheat, coconut, almond, rice, and chickpea flour. Other products that are growing in popularity are dairy-free, nut-free and sulfite-free alternatives to kitchen staples.

Organic goods also made EHL’s list for 2021. The UK ingredients firm reported that demand for organic has increased since the pandemic. Other reports have found similar trends with Organic Produce Network and Category Partners finding in April that organic produce sales surged 22% in March. In the first two months of the year, growth was a TK 1.8%.

Recent years have seen the growth of organic foods moderate as penetration of organic products increases. Nielsen figures from 2016 showed that 82% of U.S. households purchased some organic food. However, demand for healthier products has reversed that trend and put organic foods back on the list of hot commodities despite their tendency to cost mor than conventional options.

Companies can take into account the research done by these firms when developing new products or tweaking their portfolios. However, as consumer trends evolve from year to year, companies should pay attention to how they integrate these trends to ensure that their products have a long shelf life that can endure for years to come.

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