Trends That Will Shape Recipe Formulation in 2021

Food, Beverage, and Supplements 2021 Innovation Trends

Matthew Passannante
February 15, 2021

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From supply chain transparency to all things plant-based, we've compiled a list of food, beverage, and dietary supplement trends shaping product innovation in 2021.

Here are our five predictions for trends that will impact product development in the coming year.

1. Transparency and Clean Labels

There are now more consumer-driven product criteria and compliance thresholds to manage than ever before. The latest survey from Innova Market Insights reveals six in 10 global consumers want to know more about where their food comes from – and what goes into it.

In an era where consumers are engaged, informed, and making purchases based on dietary restrictions, ingredient considerations, and health concerns, ensuring labels and claims are compliant and accurate will be crucial for manufacturers and brand owners in the coming year.

“Transparency throughout the supply chain will dominate in 2021, with consumers searching for brands that can build trust, provide authentic and credible products, and create shopper confidence in the current and post-COVID climate,” Lu Ann Williams, Director of Insights and Innovation at Innova, explained.

Transparency is also critical for companies that want to take advantage of the growing demand for clean label products. Since more than 90% of consumers believe a recognizable ingredient list indicates healthier food, clean labels represent more than an opportunity; they’ve become an industry standard. Going forward, food, beverage, and supplements makers are looking to market products with shorter, simpler ingredient lists. 

2. Plant Power

Plant-based food and beverages – especially proteins – have seen significant growth in recent years. Sales of plant-based meats grew 63% in 2020. Additionally, a United Soybean Board study found that nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 16-49 consumed more plant-based foods and beverages in the last two years.

But if the holiday season is any indication, this trend will continue to accelerate. A OnePoll survey conducted by Eat Just Inc. found that 70% of American households plan to have at least one plant-based dish on the table this holiday season.

According to Innova’s research, there are four primary drivers behind consumer pursuit of plant-based food and beverages: 

  1. Health.

  2. Diet variety.

  3. Sustainability.

  4. Taste.

Experts predict that advancing technology will increase the popularity of plant and lab-created options in the future. Many food, beverage, and supplements manufacturers are beginning to adjust their formulation processes to keep pace with rising customer demand.

3. Sustainability

Analysts expect consumers to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable products in 2021. Driven by increasingly eco-conscious consumers, sustainability has grown beyond its fringe roots and become mainstream.

A recent Grant Thornton survey found that 44% of companies ranked sustainability as “extremely important or important” in their business strategy. In comparison, nearly 70% of companies insisted that sustainability is not only essential for growth but “profitable in the long run.”

More consumers are investigating the social and environmental impact of the brands they purchase. In particular, younger consumers remain acutely aware of their consumption patterns and how they represent their level of commitment to social and environmental causes. This desire extends to ethical employment practices as well.

4. Personalized Products

Since the onset of the pandemic, there’s been more focus on health and wellbeing, with increased demand for healthy alternatives and dietary supplements. This pursuit has led to the emergence of personalized nutrition options: food, beverage, and nutritional supplements that work for individual consumer needs. Innova found that 64% of global consumers have found new ways to tailor their lifestyles and products to their personal style, beliefs, and needs.

With advances in technology, there is a steady flow of new products tailored to individual needs entering the market. While the demand for personalized nutrition grows, the number of offerings is climbing, with options ranging from dietary supplements to complete diet plans.

“Any company that’s not doing personalization is going to die. “Every person in the next five years is going to ask for foods that are personalized for them,” Naveen Jain, founder, and CEO of Viom, told NutraIngredients-USA, the leading news source for the functional foods and dietary supplements industries in the United States.

Industry giants like Mars Inc. and Nestle have already begun making inroads into this emerging market:

  • Mars acquired a majority stake in Foodspring, a German protein shake and snack company that’s emerged as one of the largest and fastest-growing targeted nutrition businesses in the European Union.

  • Nestle bought Persona Nutrition, a personalized vitamin business based in Washington state.

An essential requirement for product personalization is to speed up what it takes to find qualified suppliers and ingredients capable of meeting the new product criteria. More variation in products produced means companies need to increase supply chain partners and the amount of data and information they track. With broader product lines, accelerating formulation, and every other step of the new product development process is becoming a greater priority. Brands that want to personalize product lines must digitally transform all aspects of supply chain management, food safety systems, and product programs; a manual, disjointed approach will not support the increased scale. 

5. Health and Wellness

As the desire for better mental and physical health grows, consumers seek to bolster their immunity. Innova’s latest consumer survey reveals six out of 10 global consumers want products that strengthen their immune systems, with “one in three participants saying that concerns about immune health increased in 2020.”

Consumers want products filled with nutrients, botanicals, and probiotics. Manufacturers and brand owners are shopping for immunity-boosting ingredients and investing in research into the microbiome’s role in health. A growing number of new product launches include claims like “immune health,” “immune-boosting,” and “immunity support.”

It’s no secret that label claims are one of the biggest bottlenecks that slow down formula and recipe development. Researching regulatory information like allergens, thresholds, international jurisdiction limitations, safety alerts, and associated science citations for health claims can be too time-consuming. If not done correctly, it can lead to significant brand damage and legal problems. To succeed, companies need a more reliable way to substantiate claims and functional product benefits. TraceGains makes it easier, with instant access to regulatory documents, citations, established business rules, and over 300,000 scientific studies.

Introducing Networked Formula Management

If your business is looking to get out in front of the trends shaping innovation, we can help. We’ve heard from many companies that the amount of time it takes to create and update formulas and recipes slows down product development. First, it takes too long to find suppliers and ingredients. Then, you have to wade through an enormous amount of paperwork to ensure you have what you need. And that’s just the beginning. We wanted to make it easier. You connect with your suppliers on TraceGains Network and get instant access to the supply chain data and documents you need to speed up your formulation process. Our network has grown for over ten years. Today, companies find that, on average, 80% of their suppliers are already on TraceGains.

Want to learn more? Check out our on-demand webinar with TraceGains CEO Gary Nowacki and RTI Advisors Certified Food Scientist Susan Mayer where they discuss innovation challenges and opportunities facing R&D teams. You’ll also see a demonstration of TraceGains Formula Management and how it facilitates better, faster innovation. Watch it here.