From conscious cuisine to plant-based dishes, The Fresh Market breaks down the top 10 trends in specialty food for 2021. And while COVID has played a role in these trends, the Greensboro, N.C.-based grocer predicts a desire to eat and live well will dominate the year ahead.
“What is special about The Fresh Market is that you can always discover new flavors, harder-to-find brands from smaller producers and be assured that it is best-in-class in terms of flavor and quality ingredients,” said Dan Portnoy, chief merchandising officer of The Fresh Market. He sees many of the grocer’s more distinctive items being the hitmakers of 2021 and beyond.
1. Mix-and-Match Meal Kits
The Fresh Market has seen healthy growth in its Market Meal Kits. The fully prepped kits serve two and are made fresh in-store with a protein, vegetable, starch and sauce, such as Cherry Port Glazed Salmon with Fresh Brussels Sprouts and Rice Pilaf. Each kit can be prepared in one pan and on the table in 20 minutes or less, says the company. The kits have been so successful, The Fresh Market is introducing new Market Meal Creations for 2021, which allow customers to create their own meal kit by selecting their preferred components to mix and match.
Little Big Meals are more popular than ever, the company adds. The meal offerings change weekly and typically come with a main entree, vegetables, a side dish or salad from the deli and dessert. Also new for 2021 is a Little Big Meal Grain Bowls dinner where shoppers choose a protein (chicken or shrimp) and get a pouch of Kevin’s Paleo Keto Simmer Sauce to cook the protein in, along with a choice of edamame or chickpeas plus two pouches of Organic Seeds of Change Rice and a root medley veggie kit. The meal is offered for $20, which is a $15 savings versus buying these ingredients individually.
2. Conscious Cuisine
“While being sustainably sourced or humanely raised is not a new trend, foods that are not only good for you but that give back too, are on the rise,” said The Fresh Market, which points to Herban Fresh Soups of Lowell, Mass., and its partnership with Mill City Grows to support urban farming.
Made with sustainably sourced oat milk, certified organic and vegan, with 10% of profits going to support wildlife conservation, Endangered Species Oat Milk Chocolate Bars are another conscious choice.
And Yolele Fonio Pilaf is an ancient grain that is grown in small farming communities in Sahel Region of West Africa. The brand was founded by acclaimed Senegalese chef and cookbook author Pierre Thiam and can be a substitute for rice or couscous.
3. Rooting for an Immune-Boost
“Root vegetables like ginger and turmeric are culinary superheroes when it comes to fighting inflammation and boosting immunity,” The Fresh Market said. Whether added to green juice or used in curries, stir-fries, soups or teas, this pair packs a powerful dose of antioxidants.
4. Bubbles With Benefits
When it comes to beverages, The Fresh Market predicts that fizz will meet functionality in 2021. It has its eye on products such as Booch Pop, which builds off the gut-health craze by blending Health Ade’s kombucha with belly-loving prebiotics, minerals and real fruit; and Olipop, a better-for-you fizzy tonic that combines plant fibers, prebiotics and botanicals to support gut health. It is available in Vintage Cola, Root Beer and Strawberry Vanilla.
5. Plant-Based Predictions
The Fresh Market said it will continue to make room in the dairy and freezer sections for plant-based innovation, like that from Modern Pop’s, a mom-created line of lower sugar, nondairy, vegan ice cream bars, as well as the Ireland-based Strong Roots, the innovators behind products such as Broccoli & Purple Carrot Bites, a colorful and nutritious substitute for potato tots.
6. Nuts for a New Year
Packed with protein, fiber and good-for-you fats, nuts are increasingly on shoppers’ lists at The Fresh Market. The grocer offers 35 different flavored nuts in the bulk section, with flavors like Everything Spice Cashews, Dark Coco Chili Almonds, Turmeric and Ginger Cashews, Buffalo Peanuts, Bourbon Pralines and Sea Salt & Apple Cider Vinegar Cashews.
7. It’s Getting Hot in Here
Another hot trend is seasonings and spices, said The Fresh Market, which offers custom-made seasoning blends that not only add heat but also a new flavor dimension to meals. Customers looking to turn up the heat can turn to seasonings such as Nashville Hot Chicken, Chili Coffee rub, Korean Ginger Sesame, Citrus Mojo and Elote Mexican Street Corn Spice.
8. Have Taste, Can’t Travel
With travel bans still in place, The Fresh Market predicts that highly curated items, like those from the No. 1 rated Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the world, Castillo de Canena, or World Cheese Awards champion Organic Rogue River Blue Cheese will be hot in 2021.
9. Supporting Diversity
The Fresh Market has made a commitment to increase product offerings from black-owned companies, such as Hella Bitter (all-natural bitters and soda), Partake (gluten- and allergy-free cookies), and Pipcorn (better-for-you cheese balls and snack crackers made with heirloom corn).
10. Decadent Snacking
From Milk Bar’s new line of refrigerated Truffle Crumb Cakes to Maddy & Maize’s small-batch gourmet popcorn to Jeni’s ice cream, The Fresh Market predicts indulgence will remain on the menu in 2021.
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