Food & Drink Trends 2020

January has come around quickly, and with it comes the predictions for the top food & drink trends of 2020. 

This year will see a continuation of the big trends of 2019 including plant-based products, sustainability and ‘better for you’ eating. Plus predictions show a bigger offering in the low and no alcohol category and low sugar soft drinks as consumers try to make healthier choices. Read below for more detail… 

This is a summary of top 2020 trend articles from Huffington PostSainsbury’sFoodBevCasual Dining Show, Communicator and Citimagazine.

Low and No alcohol

Tasty non-alcoholic drinks are on the rise due to the current ‘sober curious movement’ and Dry January. Both big companies and independents are taking advantage of the trend, with Strongbow releasing a new Dark Fruits 0.5% (abv) in March. If beer is more your thing, Hoplark has released Hoptea – a tea blend brewed like a craft beer (The Grocer, Huffington Post).

Alcohol spirits are gaining in popularity, with new and exciting products coming onto the market. Colombian-inspired non-alcoholic spirit Caleño is distilled in stainless steel drums and has a tropical flavour profile juniper, citrus and spice botanicals (The Grocer, Sainsbury’s).

Adaptogens, supplemented drinks and anti-ageing foods

Melissa Abbott, the vice president of culinary insights at The Hartman Group believes we will see a lot more products with Adaptogens (plant-based ingredients that help you adapt to stress) as the demand from the public for ingredients that make them feel better increases. (Huffington Post)

The global functional ingredient market is predicted to reach $100 million by 2025 with apparently 65% of consumers seeking functional benefits from the food they eat (Communicator). Customers increasingly want bespoke diets and with science progressing (and prices of using the technology coming down) – things like supplements based on your individual DNA profile are quickly gaining traction (Communicator).

Ready-to-drink beverages are also receiving a boost of supplements and vitamins. Abbot believes we will see more drinks containing ‘nootropics with amino acids’ in 2020, said to aid cognitive function and memory. The trend for fermented foods will continue, with more pickled vegetables, fermented dairy and drinks (Citimagazine).

Popular with chefs and health gurus, activated charcoal is making its way into everything from ice-cream to pizza dough (Sainsbury’s).

Healthier Snacking + Fat Filled Foods

Consumers are looking to do away with their greasy packets of crisps in favour of healthier, fresher snacking alternatives (Huffington Post). Popped and puffed snacks are a major trendsetter in this category (E.g Bepps, Plant pops). (FoodBev).

‘Good fats’ are gaining popularity, as low-fat diets are out and Paleo and Keto diets on the rise. Although people are still looking to see less sugar in their food, so they can burn ‘cleaner fuel’ (Huffington Post).

The government continue to push for lower-sugar foods, whilst multiple cereal brands release new low or no added sugar products (Jordans, Aldi, Lidl) (Sainsbury’s, The Grocer).

Protein balls are continuing to prove a favourable way to get your protein fix, and protein drinks will shift from gym-based to mainstream (Sainsburys & Casual Dining Show). The Grocer took a survey that found 6 out of 10 of us believe protein bars are healthier than chocolate, with people often buying them instead of confectionery (Communicator).

Despite having a heavy focus on ‘clean eating’ Generation Z has been said to have a hedonistic approach to eating, making sure junk food brands such as Greggs and McDonalds don’t miss out. Companies are beginning to tap into this, creating indulgent foods with a twist – such as low-calorie ice creams and plant-based burgers  (Communicator).

Alternative Flour

The trends are pointing towards ‘better for you’ ingredients, swapping out normal wheat flour with more wholegrains, seed and nut flours. Initially, the demand came from free-from consumers, but it is becoming increasingly the norm for customers across the spectrum who are looking for a healthier alternative (Huffington Post).

More gluten-free options will become available in carb-heavy dishes such as pasta and bread (Citimagazine).


2020 will see a continued increase in sustainable living and eco-consciousness. With this will come more scrutiny of labelling by customers and demand for regenerative agricultural practices and recyclable and biodegradable packaging. (The Grocer, Huffington Post). Some companies are taking it a step further, introducing edible packaging, from sauce sachets made from seaweed to edible straws (Sainsbury’s). Research shows these changes are worthwhile as customers have no problem switching loyalty if they perceive a brand is not sustainable enough (Communicator).

Root-to-tip eating is gaining popularity as people grow more conscious of reducing food waste. As is sustainable ingredients, with top chefs pushing to use more under-used and ‘undesirable’ ingredients in their restaurants (Sainsbury’s). Fruit and veg account for 44% of our waste and UK retailers are responsible for 3.6 million tonnes of food waste produced at source (food deemed not good enough to go on the shelves) (Communicator). In 2020 we will see more use of ‘Wonky’ varieties, both on the shelves and as ingredients in new products. We will also see more Innovative apps to redistribute surplus or unwanted foods in your local community (Foodbev).

Another Veganuary comes around and plant-based eating and ‘Flexitarianism’ is still hot on the trend list, with chilled vegan food sales up by 25% last year (Sainsburys & Casual Dining Show). Meat substitutes are looking to be big in 2020, both on the shelves and in casual dining restaurants (Casual Dining Show, The Grocer). Whilst vegan desserts have been cited as a big trend for this year (Citimagazine). As the market opens up to the wider public, we will see a transition in how these products are marketed – from ‘Vegan’ to ‘plant-based’ (Casual Dining Show).

On the flip side of the plant-based following, there is an increasing trend growing for ‘Better Beef’. Consumers are choosing smaller more high-quality cuts and asking more questions about the origin of the meat, as well as the breed and feed of the cow (Casual Dining Show).

Customers are also taking this mindful approach to sustainably caught fish (Casual Dining Show).

Customers will still want to see value for money, but more in the form of quality and provenance (Casual Dining Show).

Food with a Cause

With 55% of consumers believing that brands have more control than governments over our future, it’s not surprising people want to see their food brands supporting a cause. Brands are now more closely scrutinised and transparency is becoming more important (Communicator). Big brands like Cadburys (with Age UK) and Ben & Jerry’s are taking up causes and making it known on their packaging.

B Corps (companies certified to show they work with environmental social and ethical factors in mind) are leading the way for companies who want to show they can do good as well as turn a profit.

Breakaway republic Cuisines

We are starting to see more foods from ex-Soviet Union countries. Foods from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan are the new fashionable cuisines (Sainsbury’s).

Nisha Katona MBE, CEO of Mowgli Street Food also believes with the rise of meat-free eating we will also see Indian, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese flavours take off. The focus will be on fresh and flavour-packed dishes to share (Casual Dining Show).

We may also see a rise of dishes that bridge culinary regions such as French with Scandanavian flavours (Citimagazine).

Alcoholic Drinks

Gin continues to diversify but will start to slow in trajectory to make way for new spirit trends such as rum. The growth of prosecco will continue to decline, as demand for English sparkling wines increases (Casual Dining Show).

‘Better for you’ drinking is gaining momentum, with the release of ‘hard’ still or sparkling waters, providing a lighter way to drink alcohol with lower sugar and calories ( e.g Drty Drinks). We are also starting to see alcoholic kombucha, again appealing to health-conscious millennials (FoodBev).

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