2020 was a challenging year for the food industry, managing to impact the entire web of the food supply chain: producers, consumers, traders, processing, storage, marketing etc. Besides the ongoing hassle of understanding and keeping up with the food market trends, regulations, competition, logistics, climate change and customers` needs and wants, the global Covid-10 pandemic disrupted the normality overnight. Food consumption, demand, and lifestyle, in general, are all affected as a result of fear of scarcity, uncertainty, hygiene and the regulations that followed the outbreak.
Healthy eating & prioritization
On the consumer side, its effects could be seen in overall anxiety and prioritization. Buying behaviour shifted towards vital products due to financial uncertainty as well as a desire for healthier living, especially in the case of younger generations. For this reason, the food categories that continue to be popular in demand are plant-based food, functional food, food with enhanced nutritional value, fruit & vegetable for more vitamin intake, as well as (products with) less sugar intake.
Transparency & sustainability
Even before the health crisis impact, a growing number of customers consulting food labels in search for natural and fewer ingredients, as well as ethical ingredient sourcing, processing methods, and safety standards could be observed. On the same note, packaging is also of great interest. Convenience, waste reduction, and eco-friendly packaging is the standard for the years to come.
Home cooking, takeout & delivery
The Covid era taught people how to spend time at home, in lieu of free movement. Some observed a slow momentum towards home cooking, be it cooking traditional homemade bread, pasta or pastries, exploring different cuisines, trying cooking kits or learning by enrolling in online cooking courses.
Following the outbreak, its uncertainty and global measures to avoid spreading the Coronavirus, food takeout and delivery, already successful before the pandemic, continue to be a lifeline for restaurants, a successful alternative due to its convenience, as the demand for restaurant food is not going away. Even after the reopening of restaurants, eating out will be low key for an uncertain period of time due to government regulations and fear of corona contamination. Moreover, gourmet and premium food is a category that benefits from this trend, especially for the younger generations who have a more open mentality of self-care.
The post-Covid-19 world is digital
The challenges and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt globally, in all industries. In the food sector, this pandemic changed very quickly, the way things used to work and the will remain volatile for a time. On the entrepreneurs` side, the situation seems to be a bit more complicated. To survive the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions, producers and traders had to show ingenuity and adaptability to survive. The biggest issue was the shutdown of many businesses as well as group activities, be it food events, social gatherings, eating out or travelling.
Trade shows and related events in the food industry are key components and opportunities for discovery, innovation, and networking. Unfortunately, food tourism was severely impacted and requires time to recover. As a result, the top priority for the food business in 2021 is to focus and invest in a strategy to maintain communication with its clients.
As a result, the cornerstone and future long term standard for any business is digital presence. Digitalization and innovation are essential to any business and must be exploited to thrive in 2021 and beyond. To be successful, brands and traders must be quick to respond to demand, tech-savvy, and flexible. Marketing and sales department must collaborate, research and implement a strategy to promote the business in the online environment. Besides the explicable rise in social media promotion and e-commerce, successful business owners already started offering more webinars, workshops, virtual tastings, virtual cooking classes, round table virtual meetings and many other eye-catching offerings.
Moreover, the shift to the online world will create a greater customer sensitivity to internet ratings and feedback, thus websites, social media platforms, users and influencers will have a great impact on brands or businesses reputation.
Top food events in 2021: in-person, virtual, and hybrid events
Disclaimer: Dates/status of the events are subject to change or cancellation. For the most accurate information, ensure to check the information provided by the official event organizers.
Disclaimer 2: The following selection is not subject to paid advertising.
|Plant Based World Expo
|16-17 June 2021
New York, NY
|“Plant Based World Conference & Expo is the only professional 100% plant-based focused event for foodservice, retail, and healthcare professionals, distributors, investors, manufacturers, and the savvy consumer community!”
|8-9 April 2021
|The Specialty food festival
|7-9 November 2021
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
|the leading gourmet & fine food expo for the MENA region
|8-11 June 2021
|one of the most important trade fairs for the food industry in Colombia and Latin America
|The 14th Shanghai International Import and Export Food & Beverage Exhibition 2021
|20-22 May 2021
|an international platform for domestic and overseas food and beverages enterprises to enter the Chinese market, as well as a tool that helps Chinese suppliers to expand internationally.
|Annapoorna – ANUFOOD India
|6-8 September 2021
|leading Indian trade fair for the food & beverage trade and retail market
|The Sustainable Foods Summit
|25-28 January 2021
|“explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues. Summits take place in North America, Latin-America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.”
|Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Conference
|23-25 March 2021
|“the meeting place for decision-makers from across the supply chain and around the world, from the private and public sectors alike. Participants share knowledge, strengthen their networks, showcase their learnings and do business.”
|Seafood Expo Asia
17-19 Nov 2021
|trade event where buyers and suppliers of seafood from around the world come together to network and conduct business in the Asian market
|Seafood Expo Global
7-9 September 2021
|Seafood Expo North America
11-13 July 2021
|Specialty Food LIVE!
|19-22 Jan 2021
|an all-inclusive digital marketplace event, where members and buyers can conduct business and continue to put speciality food on store shelves, safely and economically
|World Tea Virtual Summit: Strategies for Success
|15-16 March 2021
|advice on building your business in 2021, social media, employee management and other topics
We leave 2020 as a great lesson, celebrating our ability to survive and adapt, and look with a bright view ahead.