Many of us have a hard time thinking past whatever meal is in front of us, and if you’re the person responsible for putting food on your family’s table – literally speaking – you might cringe at times when someone asks you what’s for dinner. Not so for the people at Hormel Foods. Along with a team of chefs and culinary influencers, they make a living predicting what we’ll be eating – and why. It’s not so much a crystal-ball activity as an exercise based on a careful study of trends and sales, backed up with the kind of research that has kept the food giant at the top of its game for close to 130 years.
According to the folks who are adept at solving our dinner dilemma (breakfast, lunch and snacks as well), look for extra helpings of feel-good food in 2021.
“It’s no surprise that comfort food, sourdough bread and whipped coffee had big moments this past year, as people hunkered down and spent more time at home than ever before,” says Heather Vossler, director of innovation and insights at Hormel Foods. “What’s interesting is that as we all embark on a fresh start to a new year, we’re seeing people still wanting that comfort and nostalgia, but also on a more elevated and focused level, as individuals continue seeking inspired, yet familiar, food choices.”
In addition, just as 2020 was full of surprises, 2021 promises to keep us on our toes, in a good way, when it comes to our food choices. Here are some of the top food trends Vossler and friends believe are in our near future:
Routines and Rituals
“Nearly a year into the pandemic, people have created some new routines and rituals that are going to stick in 2021,” says Vossler. “The new normal now consists of dining experiences like family happy hour and themed-dinner nights.”
At the same time, Vossler concedes there is a certain amount of fatigue associated with household chores, including meal prep. “Deep-diving into new cooking skills has lost some of its charm (sourdough bread starters, anyone?).” Luckily, Hormel Foods has solutions in the form of branded products, some of which are new (Black Label™ Oven-Baked Egg Bites and Hormel™ Black Label™ Breakfast Combos™ items, for example).
Leftovers are cool for 2021 and a major timesaver, so what’s not to like? Because so many meals will continue to be cooked at home, Vossler says, creative home chefs will use dishes and ingredients that can be utilized now and later.
Tip: Frying up some delicious bacon for breakfast? Make extra for a lunchtime BLT later.
First there were charcuterie boards. Then came grazing tables. With the holidays in full swing, gingerbread houses got passed over in favor of charcuterie chalets. In 2021, home cooks will continue to express themselves with creative meat displays – whether via a board, “jar-cuterie,” chalet or even a village!
Tip: Ready to step up your charcuterie-chalet game? Take a look at the charcuterie village created by the team at Columbus Craft Meats (Hayward, Calif.), and get inspiration and tips from Evan Inada, Columbus charcuterie director.
No doubt about it, hot honey is hotter than ever! On the new Hormel Foods “Heart to Table” podcast, Chef MacKenzie Smith, two-time Food Network champ, cookbook author and fan-favorite blogger, dished that hot honey will be a leading 2021 food trend. From using it as a unique ingredient to spice up favorite dishes, to pairing it with savory foods, hot honey will have a sweet spot this year.
Tip: Hot honey gives a delicious kick to Jennie-O® turkey bacon and Brussels sprouts.
Travel by Food
With so many of us staying close to home to curb the spread of COVID-19, we’re understandably longing for travel. During a recent Hormel Foods “Heart to Table” podcast, acclaimed Chef Michael Mina expressed his belief that people nevertheless will find a way to experience different cultures through cuisine at home while slowly emerging from travel restrictions brought about by the pandemic.
Tip: Travel the world with Hormel Foods products from La Victoria®, Herdez® and Dona Maria® brands.
Along with drive-by birthday parties and graduation celebrations, 2020 gave rise to a new style of snacking. People grabbed quick bites while cruising through their kitchens at different times throughout the day instead of dishing up full servings. Experts predict even more grazing in 2021, as food purveyors meet the trend with convenient products. Case in point: Justin’s® nut butters are now available in single-serve squeeze packs.
Waffles – they’re not just for breakfast anymore. According to Tony Finnestad, executive chef at Hormel Foods, the sky’s the limit when it comes to waffling this year. Almost anything can be thrown on a waffle iron, yielding a crispy exterior and hot, tender inside. How about breakfast for dinner but with a savory twist? Try something creative and different, like waffling potato rounds with SPAM® brand slices.
Wellness all around will be a huge focus in 2021 – mental, emotional and physical. Ingredients like antioxidants, collagen and protein are being added to products to provide improved benefits. Even SKIPPY® peanut butter, already an excellent source of protein, is available in an amped-up version.
Will these predictions come to pass? We can’t wait to find out. Coming off a year filled with surprises, questions and uncertainty, this much we know: Food will continue to nourish and delight us – body, mind and soul.