The Food Mood: Summing up what the food and drink audience will be looking for in 2021

The food mood: Summing up what the food and drink audience will be looking for in 2021

Creating food content is one of my life’s greatest pleasures. What could be more fun than dreaming up recipe ideas, photographing them beautifully and then presenting them to an audience and inspiring them to cook? However, last year saw our content team facing huge challenges and we had to come up with not just different ways of doing things, but also different ways of thinking – putting ourselves in the minds of our audience and what they would want to be cooking and eating.

We had to start art directing shoots remotely, using the latest publishing technology to drop images onto the page from the photographer’s studio while our art director spent the day on the phone giving direction. We had to rethink whole issues of Sainsbury’s magazine, the UK’s biggest-selling food title on the newsstand – cancelling features at the last minute as rules changed – to come up with relevant content including meals for two, store-cupboard recipes and date-night dinners (once restaurant dining was a no-no). Online we surfaced fresh new content on making bread and pasta from scratch as bored foodies wanted something practical to do indoors and our baking and fakeaway recipe content went through the roof.

But 2020 is over, and we’re sensing a new food mood for 2021. Yes, the pandemic is still with us, for a while at least. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and this is what we’re talking to our food clients about right now:

  1. Eating for immunity – although having a healthy immune system can’t prevent you catching coronavirus (or any other virus) it could help your body deal with it better resulting in less severe symptoms. It is very possible to do this with an immunity-boosting diet and people will be looking for ways to strengthen their immune system for good. Recipes containing selenium-loaded ingredients, such as turkey, sardines, eggs, Brazil nuts and liver and kidney (German research suggests that Covid-19 survivors had higher levels than those who died of the virus), and those containing zinc (found in cheese, shellfish, seeds, meat and poultry), which was also linked to a higher survival rate, will be increasingly popular.
  2. Probiotics and fermented foods – these might have had fringe appeal in 2020 but we expect them to become increasingly popular as people really understand the benefits of good gut health, especially as the gut is such a key part of the immune system. Whether it’s supermarket products such as Actimel or Yakult, niche brands of kraut or kefir or even having a go at making your own (it’s much easier than you think), this trend is going to become more mainstream.
  3. Food projects – for serious foodies spending more time at home means more time to perfect their skills. We’re increasingly seeing people having a go at making their own bread and pasta of course, but also to try their hand at home-smoking fish and meats, making cheese and yogurt from scratch and even producing their own nut milks.
  4. Buy British, Cook British, Eat British – for good, or bad, we’ve left the EU and now is the time to support British farmers and producers and celebrate all that is great about our own food culture. We’ve noticed a growing demand for traditional British recipes and an almost cult-like following of British food traditions wanting to know about the origins of dishes such as toad in the hole, Eccles cakes, scouse and gypsy tart. While some of this can be put down to national pride, we feel much is also down to that quest for nostalgia, a comforting trip down memory lane remembering when life seemed simpler and happier, even though that might be viewed through rose-tinted glasses.
  5. Winter warmers - The Norwegians have friluftsliv (free-loofts-liv) roughly translated as ‘free-air life’ a kind of gung-ho approach to getting outdoors whatever the weather, while until now we Brits have had a totally negative approach to the winter months preferring to stand behind windows staring out at the cold. Recent events however have shown us how important it is for both our physical and mental wellbeing to get outside whatever the weather gods have planned, especially as (for the moment) there is nowhere else to go. And when you’ve done your walking, hiking, cycling or sledging there is nothing more pleasurable than a flask of boozy hot chocolate, a bowl of steaming soup or a tuck-in casserole. We see more families making the effort to peel themselves off the sofa to get out and about and reward themselves with some comfort eating – and they will be searching for ideas and inspiration.
  6. Indulgence – The decimation of the restaurant scene is truly awful for the industry and we have every finger crossed that it will make a healthy recovery once we’re allowed to dine out again. Until then we anticipate that date-night dining will reach unprecedented heights as couples and families try to recreate that ‘something special’ feeling at home. Luxury ingredients, restaurant-at-home cooking kits and trading up in beers, wines and spirits will be a way for those that are able to spend some of the money they’ve been saving. They will need guidance on what to buy and how to use it wisely. From cocktail making to sizzling steaks, fine-dining curries to the best bubbles on the market, we know this is what they will be looking for.
  7. Celebration – Yes, you read that right. For when this is over, we’ll all want to party like never before. We’ve already shot and produced several recipe features for big groups featuring wow-factor bakes, luxury buffets and amazing picnics. Expect Champagne orders, barbecue meat packs and party desserts to be in huge demand this summer. Now, where’s our invite?

Want to know more? How can we help you and your clients talk to their audience in 2021?

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