The food industry continues to adapt to changes brought about by the pandemic and experts say several trends will further shape the sector in 2021.

Increased Caffeine Consumption

Coffee has always been big but things are bound to get much bigger.

With new roles and new activities to pursue in 2021, it is expected consumers' intake of caffeinated products will rise again this year. Corporate settings will gradually be restored and the demand for coffee could increase.

The 2020 Food and Health Survey by the International Food Information Council found that among American adults, caffeine consumption was at 96% and industry analysts believe the figures will climb.

Mushrooms Will Bloom

Health is a central issue in food consumption - and the trend is expected to continue throughout 2021.

With many consumers in search of healthier food options, mushrooms and mushroom-based products have been projected by grocery chain Kroger to take the spotlight.

Mushrooms are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants - three main components consumers are looking for. Kroger expects consumers to try seasonings and condiments with a mushroom base.

Home-Cooking Craze

With lockdowns inevitable owing to the emergence of a new virus strain, it is expected home-cooking will continue to remain popular.

The increasing number of households opting to eat at home will drive demand for fresh goods and alternatives to oils.

Industry experts expect more people to grow their own gardens and make their own jams and pickled foods. Demand for ingredients is expected to rise this year.

Sustainability Surge

The pandemic year gave people time to rethink eating and dining habits - with sustainability taking center stage.

Analysts predict 2021 will see big shifts in food packaging and food waste.

Food companies are expected to put their environmental commitments into action - starting with the use of recycled or biodegradable materials in packaging. The prediction was based on research by Trivium Packaging that found 74% of consumers was willing to pay more for packaging that promises sustainability.

In the food-waste segment, upcycling is expected to increase. Upcycling is the process of adding value to surplus ingredients or byproducts that were initially believed to be unrecyclable.

Several brands are already investing in upcycling including Rubies in the Rubble, Wonky Veg Boxes, Toast Ale and Olam Coffee, which is using cascara - a byproduct of the coffee cherry fruit's skin - to develop a range of super-fruit products.

Practicality Is The Priority

Owing to economic stress that held back consumption in 2020 more people are expected to lean on practical food options this year.

Online shopping and food delivery were the two main purchasing choices for consumers last year, and this trend won't go away anytime soon. Fewer people are visiting supermarkets but when they do, they stock up on food.

Even during food shopping, consumers are searching for products that are affordable but have longer shelf lives. Many consumers shop on a budget while ensuring that they are on the healthier side of the purchases.