With 2021 now on the horizon, Head of Process at Integrated Food Projects, Ed Keenan, gives his predictions for the top food and drink trends for the industry. In the third of a three-part series, he looks at the food trends that we can expect to see from next year.


Food trends are constantly changing and following a turbulent year, it’s refreshing to see some exciting developments to look forward to in 2021. From new flavour combinations to technological advances, the future of food certainly has a lot in store for us.


  • Sweet and umami combinations:

These seemingly odd combinations will become increasingly common in food, desserts, and drink with new product development and innovation. Examples of this include miso-based desserts and miso caramels, soy sauce and fruits, mushrooms and sweet potato, or sea vegetables and dried fruits.


  • 3D printed desserts:

Desserts will be taken to another level next year, with 3D printed components creating intricate shapes and forms not possible with conventional pastry techniques. A mixture of art and architecture with an element of fun. Expect to see these on Bake Off soon!


  • Ghost kitchens:

Avoiding the high overheads of a restaurant, these kitchens can actually produce for multiple restaurant brands, allowing higher kitchen utilisation and reduced stock requirement compared to multiple individual kitchens. Consumers will be unaware and if they are, then it’s likely they’ll be indifferent. This trend will see the continuation of the increase in takeaway and home deliveries as a result of Covid-19, giving consumers access to many restaurant brands that they’d usually visit, all from the comfort of their sofa.


  • Turmeric:

This spice makes an appearance on most of my prediction lists, year in, year out. From next year, turmeric’s ability to apply a sherbet flavour when mixed with other ingredients will make it feature more frequently on desserts menus.


  •  Lichen:

This is a trend that started in 2014 at Noma (the best restaurant in the world for four years and currently ranked number two) and continued at many other top-ranking restaurants across the globe. Lichen has only just hit more mainstream fine dining – these mushroom-like symbiotic organisms are becoming more commonplace on menus slightly less prestigious than that of Noma!


  •  High-end street food:

The street food trend is growing up and morphing into high-end street food with added hybrids and fusion ingredients. Prices have increased too, many street food dishes are now on a par with conventional restaurants.


  •  Return of fine dining:

The white tablecloth and silverware is making a return. Over the last 10 years, fine dining restaurants have moved towards a more casual setting with minimalist contemporary decor, but I think this is about to change, with people wanting the feeling of the special occasion and being fussed over again. Once restrictions are lifted and dining out can be enjoyed, I think people will truly value the silver-service treatment.


  •  Smaller potatoes:

Once considered outgrades, smaller potatoes are seeing a spike in interest thanks to them being quicker to cook and more versatile than their larger counterparts. People are looking for convenience now, and this is something that a humble potato can provide!


  •  Olive oil:

Olive oil has long been connected to healthy eating and now there is even more evidence of its health benefits. New research points to both elenolide, a chemical component of olive oil that has proven anti-hypertensive properties as well as tyrosol, a compound that’s protective against neurodegenerative diseases. This can only increase the popularity as the trend for other fats such as coconut oil reduces.


  • Carob:

The increased interest in plant-based diets has emphasised the environmental benefits of going vegan, but it also highlights potential health deficits created by doing so. People who avoid animal products can often be deficient in an amino acid crucial to collagen production – Hydroxyproline (HYP). Carob is high in HYP, fibre, calcium, iron, antioxidants and protein. Carob is also gluten-free, caffeine-free, naturally sweet and low carb so perhaps a contender for the next superfood ‘must-have’. Despite its reputation as a bad 1970s chocolate replacement, carob is redefining its role as a collagen supporting ingredient.


  • Fermented rice desserts:

Don’t be put off by the name, these are a sweet, mildly alcoholic snack made from rice and starter cultures. There are many geographic variations with the common theme of being a fermented tangy dessert with a good source of energy with the benefit of helping to maintain a healthy gut.


  • Yeast:

Yeast has appeared as an ingredient on the menus at fine dining restaurants around the world for a few years now, but I expect to see it appearing as a flavour in its own right in some premium products available from supermarkets this year.


  • Frozen produce:

The freezer section in supermarkets has seen recent high growth due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and people choosing to keep their freezers well-stocked whilst at home. The quality of frozen products is on the up, this is a trend that’s here to stay. We’ll start to see more high-end offerings appearing in the freezer section over the course of the year.


Ed has also written about the 2021 trends for alternative and environmental food choices and also the 2021 trends for drinks.


Integrated Food Projects have partnered with Kettleby Foods on a number of high-profile multi-million pound capital projects since 2003/4, helping the business to develop and grow. Throughout that time they have provided cost-effective and efficient solutions on development projects both at our existing ready meals production facility and also in creating a new satellite facility. The projects at our existing facility were managed without impact on our ability to service our own clients, and all projects have been delivered within budget, in a timely fashion and to the requisite standards of safety and quality. Their team work ethos and professional approach ensure successful projects and I would utilise Integrated Food Projects in the future without hesitation.

- Jarrod Thorndyke, Production Director

I have worked with Integrated Food Projects on many capital expenditure projects since 2004, the latest being the development of the new plot of land adjacent to our main site. They successfully employed a project delivery process to ensure the integration of a leased modular building solution with the development of the site infrastructure to improve logistics and Health and Safety. Their staff are always positive and enthusiastic and have fostered a team-work approach ensuring another successful project delivered. I look forward to working with them again in the near future.

- Engineering Manager, Major UK Ready Meals Manufacturer