Food trends and innovations - January 2020

The latest food trends on the front page of a newspaper

2019 saw the rise of...

Canned drinks

In an effort to reduce consumption of plastic packaging, consumers are increasingly consuming their waters, seltzers, coffees and chocolate milks out of cans.

In addition to non-alcoholic canned drinks, 2019 saw the revival of canned alcoholic drinks. No longer confined to sweet, pre-mixed drinks, a new wave of supermarket RTD canned alcoholic drinks is emerging and includes nitrogen-infused cocktails, craft alcohols, hard seltzers and ‘premium’ flavours and brands.


Moderate drinking and teetotalism continued to rise throughout 2019. A recent report by data analysts, CGA, found that on-trade sales of low- and no-alcohol drinks have risen by 48% (to £60 million a year) in the UK over the last 12 months.

In 2019, following the success of his zero-proof, distilled spirits brand, Seedlip, Ben Branson launched Æcorn, a three-strong range of alcohol-free aperitifs. 2019 also saw the launch of Highball Cocktails, described as the UK’s first range of 0% ABV RTD cocktails, offering six alternatives to well-known cocktails and mixers.

Zero-proof drinks are expected to continue to grow in popularity and have been tipped by Whole Foods Market as one of the top ten food and drink trends for 2020.

Plant-based and flexitarianism

According to Waitrose’s 2019/20 Food and Drink Report, a third of Brits are eating less meat and fish than two years ago and 32% are planning to (further) reduce their consumption over the next two years. Takeaway delivery company, Deliveroo, have reported a 330% increase in vegan orders over the past two years. The most popular days of the week, according to Deliveroo’s findings, are Mondays and Wednesdays. The number of people adopting plant-based, vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets are expected to continue into 2020.

Everything pink

From Gordon’s pink gin to ruby chocolate, pink is the colour of the second half of the 2010s and the colour is gaining popularity in the alcohol category. ‘Pink’ wines and ciders made a frequent appearance in shopping baskets in 2019. The trend is predicted to continue with the ‘first rosé Prosecco’ set to go on sale in UK supermarkets in early 2020.

Look out for the following trends in 2020

Salt (but not flavour) reduction

According to Waitrose’s survey, one in five under-35s is less likely to put salt on the table at mealtimes than they used to. Chefs and home cooks are increasingly turning to ingredients such as pepper, chilli, lemon, mint, basil and nutmeg to add flavour to dishes.


With banana blossom fish and chips paving the way for the rise of seafood imitation products or ‘seamitations’, vegetarian and vegan alternatives to fish are quickly gaining traction on supermarket aisles and restaurant menus. Examples of new launches in 2019 include Loma Linda’s range of canned tuna alternatives, Tuno, as well as Quorn’s fishless fillets.

British restaurant chain, Wagamama, has announced a vegan ‘tuna’ dish on their 2020 January menu.

Products spotted further afield include vegan sashimi from the Netherlands (SeaStar) and Canadian crabless cakes (Gardein).

Smoky flavours

According to Deliveroo and The Food People, this trend is set to continue into 2020. ‘Smoky ingredients’ to look out for include chorizo, hickory wood, mezcal, whisky, smoked chilli or paprika, Lapsang tea, smoked oils and smoked salt.

Elevated salads

Another Deliveroo trend prediction is the ‘elevation’ of salads using products such as:

  • Unusual grains such as teff and freekeh
  • Nut and seed butters in dressings and dips
  • Ferments such as lacto-fermented sauces or miso
  • Dehydrated vegetables for texture

Balance – indulgence in moderation

The term ‘mindful eating’ has previously featured in this report. However, the concept is predicted to develop into a more holistic and rounded view of the diet, combining health (physical and mental) and indulgence but also looking at sustainability.

Black garlic

Used in Korean cooking for centuries, black garlic is made by fermenting garlic bulbs until they turn black and sweet. Often used to add depth and complexity to vegan dishes, black garlic is set to re-emerge as a food trend in 2020.

Other 2020 trend predictions


Soufflé pancakes


Rich flavours

Burning wood/indoor barbecues


North African/Middle Eastern spices

West African flavours

Popped and puffed snacks

Reduced-sugar confectionery

50/50 dairy and plant milks

Sustainable packaging

Reusable packaging


Gut health/fermented foods


Desserts take centre stage

Alternative flours

Looking back to 2010

10 years ago, food trendspotters, Marian Salzman (Global Head of PR at Euro RSCG) and Ann Mack (Director of Trendspotting at JWT) predicted the following trends for 2010. We take a look at some of these from a hindsight perspective:

Immunity diets

Foods that boost the immune system.

2020 perspective:

Immunity foods formed part of the functional eating trend that grew consistently throughout the 2010s. Although functional foods are still popular, consumers are increasingly sceptical about health claims on food packaging.

Legumes will reign – particularly chickpea

A surge in the consumption of legumes, particularly chickpea, with bean soup expected to become a ‘brunch staple’.

2020 perspective:

Whilst bean soup has not made it as a regular on brunch menus (instead, avocado on toast has), legumes have formed an important part of the plant-based food trends of the 2010s.

Storytelling and discovery

A more epic approach to eating. African cuisine and the emergence of ‘obscure spices’ were predicted to become key culinary trends in the space.

2020 perspective:

Storytelling has remained a trend throughout the 2010s, particularly the second half of the decade.

Coconut water

The clear liquid inside coconuts, high in potassium and with a sweet, nutty taste. The two trendspotters referred to this trend prediction in the sentence ‘more bizarrely, look out for coconut water’.

2020 perspective:

Coconut water turned out to be one of the biggest drinks trends of the decade, albeit a love it or hate it drink to most people.

Black garlic

Boasting twice the antioxidants of regular, un-fermented garlic and with a sweeter, richer flavour profile.

2020 perspective:

In hindsight, 2010 would not be the year black garlic was widely adopted. A decade later, black garlic is set to make it as one of the big 2020 trend predictions (see previous page).

Looking towards 2030 – future trends

Activism (consumers and companies) (predicted by Mintel)

Driven by consumer expectations, the future will likely see consumers take a more proactive and conscious approach to consumption and will choose their purchases based on the efforts of the companies they buy from. Companies that display pro-activity and take the lead in making a positive impact will be rewarded with increased loyalty.

Smart diets (predicted by Mintel)

Somewhat unsurprisingly, technology and data will continue to play a central role in how consumer choices are made. In particular, the widespread access to biological tests will see an increasing number of consumers make decisions based on personalised data. Such decisions will likely see consumers take a more holistic approach to diets and health, including brain and emotional health.

The foodservice industry will have increased access to such data which will open up opportunities to develop more personalised and individualised recipes and offerings.

High-tech harvests (predicted by Mintel)

Mintel predict an increased acceptance and trust in science and technology and the role they will play in ensuring access to affordable, safe and nutritious food and drink. Future innovations could include the commercial sale of lab-grown meat, robotic-harvested outdoor farms as well as in-store, indoor vertical farms.

Mainstream game (predicted by The Future Laboratory)

Rabbit, grouse and venison will become affordable to, and adopted by, the mainstream, regardless of social backgrounds. This will be driven by demand for healthier, low-fat, locally-sourced meats. A report by The Future Laboratory describes a new group of consumers as ‘localvores’.

Intelligent ovens (predicted by The Future Laboratory)

This new breed of smart ovens will be able to sense when food is cooked and turn themselves off to save energy and money.

‘Gastroentertainment’ (predicted by The Future Laboratory)

The catering and foodservice industries will face increased competition from home cooks who cook and entertain at home. The home is also set to be the place where an increasing number of consumers experimemt with new foods and world cuisines.

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