The new consumer foodscape in 2021 is taking shape

In the vein of this week’s Cassandra Daily series around key cultural shifts and industry innovations surrounding wellness resolutions for 2021, we’re examining food and diet trends. In Cassandra’s recent Picture of Health report, we noted that young adults are embracing a bifurcated approach to eating right now, wherein they’re simultaneously eating healthier yet treating themselves to indulgent and nostalgic snacks when they want to. The big takeaway? That Gen Zs and Millennials are forging new dietary habits that are both highly individualized and more intuitive, as well as less tied to the diet culture of decades past.


When it comes to demand for products that serve young adults’ growing interest in lowering their alcohol consumption, Cassandra has found that one-third of U.S. Trendsetters report trying or being interested in trying low- and no-alcohol beverages. Now, a new generation of non-alcoholic drinks are currying favor with consumers who are exploring cutting back on alcohol (which is especially timely given that Dry January is officially underway). Brands such as Ghia offer spirit-free alternatives for the modern cocktailer and are complex, botanical-forward additions to any mocktail.


Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve observed a boom in the meal kit market, especially as restaurants and food brands have had to pivot rapidly to address consumer shifts towards preparing food at home. The internet is currently rife with meal kit roundups in light of the new year, but the focus on restaurants launching meal kits is something that is sure to continue securing consumer attention, especially in light of the crisis the industry is currently facing. The Los Angeles Times rounded up a number of meal kits that repackage the restaurant experience for an in-home environment; with a growing focus on supporting local businesses as well, such initiatives are sure to surge in popularity over the coming year.


U.S. News & World Report released its fourth annual diet rankings; for 2021, they named the Mediterranean diet the “best diet overall.” This diet prioritizes plant-based cooking that centers fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and (awesomely) extra virgin olive oil, and advocates for minimizing sugar and refined flour. It’s intended to be a lifestyle more so than a delineated diet, and moreover has directives for moving, socializing, and mindful eating. This dovetails with Cassandra’s findings around how today’s young adults are emphasizing a balanced approach to eating—bucking stringent diet culture—as well as how they’re exhibiting a renewed effort around reducing or eliminating processed foods: not as a diet, but as a guideline for health and wellbeing.