Niche foods in the spotlight in 2021

6 min read
Food Importers
6 min read

The at-home cooking renaissance is making people experiment with global flavours and ingredients, while ghost kitchens and takeout are the new pillars of fancy or comfort eating. To succeed in the food business, producers and traders must adapt to new behaviours and demand, as well as take the road of innovation and online marketing, as the world of food post-Covid is digital.

2021 will focus on getting back a sense of balance after the unforgettable turmoil of last year, that helped producers, suppliers and restaurants sculpt the food landscape of today. Unexpectedly, the niche foods of 2021 remain in a tight relationship with this year`s food trends which are also established by the interest and demand of the consumers. The outcome of the Covid crisis gave a boost to healthy eating and mindful nutrition, teaching people how to healthfully pair foods instead of giving up their favourite dishes.

Healthy eating

Plant-based products & healthy snacking

Given the fact that many people have been working from home for a while, changing their lifestyles almost overnight, triggered their eating behaviour to take a toll, making them snack more often. Combining this with the desire for a healthy diet, bring plant-based foodstuff in the limelight. The vegan and vegetarian movements are already mature and standalone popular, but in need for energy throughout the day, healthy snacking will thrive even more in 2021, especially under the umbrella of an abundant offer on the market.

Alternative sugars

Products with low sugar and natural sweeteners will be another top theme of 2021. The global sugar alternatives market grew by 5% CAGR in the last three years and it is forecasted to maintain its momentum, a proof that healthy living is indeed a trend and standard for the long term future. 

The continued demand for consumers to reduce sugar content in products pushed companies to find new healthier alternatives. Today, sugar substitutes are found in many edibles and drinkables, as well as personal care items. Maple sugar or coconut sugar are just a few examples of the new era of product development in this segment. The trend to improve sugar alternatives` taste and functionality, to combat the addictive nature of sugar and its negative effects on health is likely to lead forward the interest of both producers and consumers.


Microgreens have steadily gained attention. Usually found in a restaurant meal, microgreens are now available in many forms in the grocery stores or online. Despite their small size, these baby plants are more nutrient-rich than their mature counterparts. They come in a wide variety of tastes, textures and colours and are a great asset in many dishes, including salads or smoothies for a boost of colour and nutrients.


Over the past several years, people have heard of prebiotics and probiotics, components who help in keeping the digestive system healthy and regular. The family now adds a new member. In short, postbiotics are born when probiotics feed on prebiotics and are responsible for several health-boosting functions in our gut, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Postbiotics can be found in yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and other food items, as well as in the form of supplements or added to food products, and will be very present on the market in 2021.

Immunity boosting foods

To no surprise, the Covid outbreak last year was a stress and major driver in the demand for immune-boosting foods. Interest in functional ingredients, foods and beverages gained momentum and are here to stay as maintaining a healthy immune system remains a main focus in these times. In the same manner, popular in demand right now are also foods with enhanced nutritional value, natural ingredients, fruit and vegetable as a source of vitamin intake, as well as other related categories.

CBD food supplements

The worldwide phenomenon medicinal plant, Cannabidiol(CBD) has been creating buzz in the food and supplement industry recently, whether from its confusing nature regarding its legality or its health benefits. Available in different forms, oils, powders, capsules, among others, CBD is said to be a superfood with many benefits including relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects as well as correcting cholesterol levels in the blood. As people are dealing with increased anxiety, stress and lack of motivation related to the crisis and its uncertain outcomes, CBD supplements can go a long way, especially as 2021 seems to be the year of positive CBD policy changes.

Homemade replicas

At-home restaurant experiences

Consumers increasingly cook and eat at home, learning to cook fancy meals and special treats for their mental and physical self-care, but also because they miss the feeling of eating out. For this reason, we are going to see many innovations from the foodservice industry this year, as restaurants are coming up with alternatives, changing their business models and offerings for the joy of consumers. 

People’s limited or restricted ability to experience fine dining at the restaurant during the Covid era brought takeout and food delivery in the limelight. The demand for restaurant experiences at home, as well as comfort food like fast food, is on the rise for being a reminder of how it used to be and a treat for stress and inconsistent routines. Due to this high interest, restaurants have also come up with innovations like selling meal kits and ready-made meals to use at home. 

Global flavour: sauces & condiments

With international travelling still limited and an uncertain period in the future, global culinary adventures are missed by many. Moreover, due to an increasing number of consumers that seek to replicate restaurant cooked meals at home, as well as more time available to experiment and improve cooking skills, condiments and sauces are other key ingredients of 2021. The excitement of home cooking brought back by the lockdown and its repercussions led people to look for ways to spice up their meals in their journey for flavour.

Moreover, people are beginning to be more excited about global flavour mash-ups, that aren’t new under the sun. Producers and restaurant will be the ones in charge of unexpected pairings to lure customers in this segment, but the online access will also influence the spread of exotic blendings once with home cooking experimentations.

Barista like, homemade coffee

For the one-third of the population who is working from home today, the morning cup of joe is a serious business. Many consumers think regular, basic coffee is not the answer anymore, especially after tasting innovations and hybrids from the multinational coffee brands around the world. Consumers nowadays, especially the younger ones, are true connoisseurs who enjoy quality and uniqueness, experimenting with flavours and textures.

As a result of these limitations that broke their morning routine of stopping by the coffee shop prior to work, coffee enthusiast will invest more in their barista skills to imitate the fancy, professional coffees they love. Fortunately, the coffee gods are merciful as the market is full of high-quality coffee beans and powders of many flavours, textures and packages, from any corner of the world, available be it at the supermarket or one click away.

To get access to a list of active food importers from around the world, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.

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