Hardly anything about the food industry has been typical, expected or even recognizable during the age of COVID-19. That said, 2021 did give us a number of innovations in food that were both inspired by the pandemic and that managed to flourish in spite of it.
As this strange, exciting, frustrating and hopeful year comes to an end, HuffPost celebrates the trends that defined the food landscape in 2021 and looks ahead to 2022 and beyond.
1. Plant-based cuisine became even more popular this year.
The presence of plant-based food wasn’t new in 2021. This “trend” has been on the rise for several years now, and it shows no signs of vanishing. However, chefs and food entrepreneurs saw a greater demand for dishes and groceries with no animal products. “The plant-based [protein] trend is probably the biggest trend I can point to that hits across our diverse populations in the U.S.,” said Celine Beitchman, director of nutrition at the Institute of Culinary Education. “There are trends that hit some groups and not others, but plant-based food that mimics meat at the level that we’re seeing at grocery stores and at fast food outlets is a big shift toward eating plant-based for the average person. I expect that to continue to grow.”
Shaun Quade, the founder of Grounded Foods, also views plant-based eating as a movement that’s here to say, telling HuffPost that “the monumental shift toward plant-based food isn’t even a trend ― it’s just the way forward at this point. I don’t expect people to convert to veganism any time soon (I mean, I haven’t), but since the pandemic began, a lot of us are rethinking our diets and the role our food plays in sustainability and personal health. Plant-based dining has gone from being a niche to something that’s being adopted by major retailers through to fine dining institutions like Eleven Madison Park.”
2. Supply-chain issues and product shortages inspired chefs to get creative.
Efforts to move past shutdowns and toward something resembling “normal” life came with a number of difficulties, including supply-chain