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How the pandemic shaped global food trends of 2021

Covid-19 has paved the way for better, greener and cleaner foods, says a nutrition report. The trends also find an echo in the Indian ecosystem

Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash

As the pandemic raged, raw turmeric was pickled and gut health gained attention, even as cakes were baked and Dalgona was stirred. In fact, a greater focus on foods for boosting health is one of the many favourable outcomes of Covid-19. A trend report, titled Top Five Global Trends that Will Shape the Food Industry in 2021, released by the US-based Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (commonly known as ADM), a multinational food processing conglomerate, highlights this accelerated shift to eat better, cleaner and greener.

The report says, “Each of these trends is strongly influenced by behavioral and societal changes that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic, including heightened feelings of anxiety and stress, shifting priorities, changes in social connectivity, and the adoption of a more holistic approach to wellness.”

Proactively eating better for a healthy body and mind

The report found 31% of their consumers are purchasing more items with health benefits, and 50% indicated a preference for foods and beverages that inherently contain nourishing ingredients that improve immunity and energy.

“I have noticed people opting for fresh foods over processed,” says Maya Pereira Sawant, founder of the Mumbai restaurant Lean Kitchen by Maya. During the pandemic, she started subscription meal boxes for lunch, dinner and snacks. She says, “In the months since the lockdown, people have been sedentary and they are tired of cooking. Now, they are seeking healthy meals.”

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Sustainability in the limelight

The report revealed over two-thirds (65%) of ADM’s consumers intended to incur least damage to the environment through their daily actions. And, 32% buy sustainably produced items.There is a noticeable shift to veganism which is believed to be better for the environment and health, says Sawant.

The gut microbiome emerged as the holy grail of health

Gut inflammation has been linked to several autoimmune diseases including cancer and Alzheimers. Better immunity is linked to a healthy gut. This implies a surge in demand for probiotics and probiotics. “People now understand that improving gut health is a sustained effort,” says Sneh Yadav, founder of the Tijara Farms from Rajasthan. Their agricultural practices are modelled on biodynamic farming. She has started selling farm produce in packages marked as immunity boosting and foraged foods. These packets are not restricted to turmeric, but also include seasonal produce like amla and giloy.

Plant-based foods boom

The report points out that plant-based foods like mock meat have expanded to include alternatives for seafood, cheeses and ready-to-eat protein snacks. Dairy alternatives with cheese and yoghurts are on the rise too, but what will make these products stand out is labelling with information on protein, vitamins and probiotics.

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Building consumers trust with transparency

While giving the right information through labelling is crucial, consumers are also seeking the place of origin of foods. Direct purchases from farms have increased noticeably in the pandemic. More than half of Yadav’s produce would be bought by restaurants pre-pandemic, but post the lockdown, she noticed a sharp decline in restaurant orders, as expected, but purchases by families and individuals gradually increased: “People reach out to me with specific questions and most of them have to do with how to improve health and immunity.”

With inputs from the Associated Press (AP).

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