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Trends Shaping the Health Food Industry Outlook For 2021

Health food trends in 2021 herald a new decade where it’s difficult to separate health foods from healthy foods, which more and more traditional restaurants and grocers offer as standard fare. Health activists, vegetarians, and organic champions are excited about the direction that health food trends are taking. Still, more omnivore diners appreciate the reduced calories, better nutrition, and fresher flavors that healthy foods provide.

The top 10 food trend of 2021, in no particular order, include:

1. Plant-based Diets Gain Market Share

Plant-based foods continue their multi-year domination of trendy foods. This phenomenon is based on increased numbers of vegetarians and their influence on restaurant menus and supermarket products. According to, consumers are more concerned with where their food originates and its effect on health.

2. Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods for Gut Health

More prebiotic and probiotic foods get increased shelf space in stores and markets. Foods like kimchi, plain kefir, and kvass promise better digestion and digestive tract health. When combined with consumer demand for fresh, local, and whole foods, the trend of consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods becomes even more popular.

The microbiome is a term that describes the millions of bacteria that occupy your gut. Most are beneficial, and probiotics supply more of the good bacteria, while prebiotic foods provide increased fiber for a healthier digestive tract. Restaurant chefs and menu planners work these probiotic and prebiotic substances into a dizzying array of foods.

That’s important because more and more customers want to know the ingredients in everything. Chefs can build a pro-health reputation even if the restaurant’s cuisine doesn’t focus on healthy foods. Probiotic and prebiotic foods have become a powerful marketing draw for restaurants, packaged food sellers, and grocers.

3. Increase of Foods that Fight Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Many diets focus on foods that fight or relieve irritable bowel syndrome, which is also known as IBS. These diets include trendy keto-, paleo- and low-FODMAP-based diets. Dietary sensitivities become increasingly common because of better diagnostic technology and an increased number of digestive issues caused by consuming processed foods, hot chili peppers, and preservatives.

IBS can trigger extreme constipation, diarrhea, and digestive pain. Common triggers include garlic, gluten, chili peppers, some dairy products, and onions. Retailers and grocers are selling more low-FODMAP foods like salsas, salad dressings, and other condiments, which are often the source of bowel irritation. Pasta sauces without garlic and onion are available at more outlets, and menu items for customers with food sensitivities help increase restaurant traffic directly and indirectly when a large dining group must order food that won’t aggravate digestive problems.

4. New Types of Flours Gain Ground

More types of flours are being ground and gaining ground in the competitive health food industry. According to CNBC com, alternative flours have become all the rage in trendy restaurants, and consumers can buy them in mainstream grocery stores.  Alternative flours replace wheat flour for people with wheat allergies, gluten allergies, and those who prefer to limit their gluten intake.

These alternative flours include amaranth, buckwheat, banana, chickpea, coconut, millet, oat, quinoa, potato, rice, sorghum, tapioca, and various nut flours. Consumers will probably discover new flours in their favorite restaurants and supermarkets. These fruit and vegetable flours turn ordinary recipes into extraordinary cuisine. For example, a chef can prepare a banana cream pie using banana flour in the crust.

5. Healthy Snack Foods Take a Bite out of Food Budgets

Healthy snacks have come of age in 2021. Entrepreneurs, managers, and chefs have taken note of the trend and responded by creating single-serve packages of healthy snacks, healthy appetizers, etc. These might include raw vegetables and dip, hard-cooked eggs, nutrition bars, and traditional fruits and vegetables that are marketed as grab-and-go snacks.

6. Increase in West African Cuisine

West African flavors are the latest food craze to go viral. Whole Foods reports that consumers consider many West African brands as “superfoods” that increase longevity and good health. Most West African dishes begin with tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers; Common additions include lemongrass, ginger, and peanuts in various forms like the boiled, dry-roasted, ground, etc.

Tamarind and moringa are common West African ingredients, and more stores and restaurants sell West African cereal grains like millet, teff: sorghum, and fonio. Succotash and okra have deep roots in West African cuisine.

7. Increase in Alternative Butter Spreads

Say goodbye to the war between butter and margarine. Alternative spreads are one of the biggest trends of 2021 because they include increased shelf space in grocery stores, and consumers can find alternative spreads in healthy food, healthy food, and traditional eateries.

Alternative butter and spreads include almond, cashew, chickpea, tahini, watermelon seed, and pumpkin butter. More restaurants and supermarkets sell these alternatives to satisfy customers on keto or paleo diets. Product decision-makers recognize the consequences of greater food transparency and look for products and ingredients without palm oil or nuts grown under environmentally suspect conditions.

8. Just Say Nuts to That — Increased Sales of Brain Boosters

After years of losing ground because of nut allergies, nuts and seeds are making a big comeback. According to, nuts and seeds are becoming more popular because they’re considered brain boosters. Nuts and seeds provide concentrated protein and healthy fats.

Restaurant chefs have often shied away from including nuts in dishes because of the high number of people with nut allergies. Greater transparency means that more and more people check out the ingredients of menu items before ordering. When these are posted, consumers bear the responsibility of checking the ingredients and requesting their meals be prepared without nuts.

Chefs can prepare foods made with nuts without guilt and rely on customers to check for any ingredient sensitivities. Some of the popular preparations in restaurants include adding nuts to stir-frys, salads, and smoothies,

9. Collagen Supplements

Collagen has long been a beauty supplement, but its use in food was usually confined to slow-roasted ribs and gelatin. Ribs aren’t considered healthy, but collagen as a supplement powder for oral intake provides many health and wellness benefits. Supplement sales of collagen powder are becoming highly popular in one of the world’s most competitive industries.

Collagen can be added to foods as a health supplement because it is odorless and tasteless. Some of the health benefits attributed to collagen powder include reducing wrinkles, generating more collagen and elastin in the skin, and fighting the aging process.

10. Dairy Alternatives Fuel Increased Smoothie Sales

Smoothies become more popular each year. The combination of high fiber, raw vegetables and fruits, and easy portability contribute to the trend. A major contributing factor in 2021 is the increase in non-dairy milk for smoothies. Alternative dairy products include grain, coconut, rice, hazelnut, oat, and almond milk.

These alternatives are sold in bottles, as dairy substitutes in restaurants, and as ingredients for lactose-intolerant smoothies. This trend also supports the plant-based food trend.

Health Food Industry Stats and Growth Projections in 2021

The health food trends listed above give you an overview of the opportunities available for business startups and increased sales of healthy food products. The top 10 must-know health food industry statistics of 2021 include:

  1. Wellness Tourism – reports that wellness tourism generates 17 percent of all tourism businesses.
  2. Health and Wellness Market –The health food industry includes areas of the health and wellness market, which generates more than $4.2 trillion annually.
  3. General Health Stats –About 56 percent of people believe they’re in good or excellent health, but 80 percent don’t trust the marketing or ambiguous data about what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy. Educating your customers can generate customer loyalty and support.
  4. Consumer Body Fat Issues –About 37 percent of Americans have normal body fat levels, also known as BMI. 32 percent are obese, and 28 percent are overweight. Health foods help people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Health Food Industry Stats – reports that about 40 percent of health food industry revenue comes from organic products, and 15 percent comes from dairy products.
  6. Most Successful Organic Import –The most successful import in the United States is coffee, which makes it a major product to offer in health food industry outlets.
  7. Attitudes About Healthy Foods –Around 88 percent of consumers are willing to spend more on healthy food products.
  8. The trend of Eating Healthier – reports that 93 percent of those surveyed want to eat healthier — at least some of the time.
  9. Specialty Food Stats – reports that specialty foods earned $127 billion a year in 2017, which was a 13.7 percent increase over the previous year.  Health foods are a major part of specialty foods.
  10. Organic Produce Sales – Organic produce accounts for $65.8 billion in annual sales, and organic foods are a major part of the health food industry.

Healthy Health Food Business Opportunities

The stats of the health food industry prove that the industry is lucrative and thriving. The top 10 trends just skim the surface of the business opportunities related to healthy foods and healthier foods.