Health and Wellness Trends for 2021

Five product categories to watch over the next 12 months

When the clock struck midnight on 1st January 2020, it’s safe to say that none of us expected the year to turn out quite how it has.

Despite the hardships and suffering that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, it has also brought about a positive change in attitude towards mental and physical health. This means great things for health and wellness brands, many of whom have already experienced a boost in sales over the last six-months.

So, as we prepare to enter 2021 with a new lease of vim, vigour and hope, let’s take a look at five product categories that are set to experience significant growth over the next year.

The rise of the flexitarian diet

Over the last few years, there has been a huge rise in the number of people moving towards a plant-based diet. Key motivators include health benefits, environmental factors and animal welfare.

Supported by schemes such as Meat-free Mondays and Veganuary, more and more people are consciously choosing a flexible diet that reduces their intake of animal products, whilst increasing plant-powered proteins and fresh vegetables. You can find out more about this in our deep-dive into the global vegan market.

We only need to look at the number of products available on supermarket shelves to understand the potential value of this product category, which is set to grow rapidly in 2021. In fact, according to iNews, around 16% of UK supermarket ready meals are now plant-based, compared to only 3% in 2018.

This trend will mostly be driven by meat and fish alternatives such as the Dutch brand Vivera, whose wide range of meat-free products includes bacon pieces, plant steaks, and even shawarma kebab, and Good Catch Foods based out of New York.

Founded by renowned vegan chefs Chad and Derek Sarno, Good Catch Foods are one of the world’s pioneers when it comes to plant-based fish alternatives. In January 2020, Good Catch secured $32 million USD in a second round of investment, to help the business grow on a global scale. We’re sure to see great, and innovative, things from this brand in 2021. Definitely one to watch.

Increased popularity of Cannabinoids

As a result of government lockdowns, economic recession, and health concerns, there has been a huge rise in the number of people suffering from anxiety, depression and hopelessness in 2020, with the most negatively impacted being 18 to 24-year olds and females.

However, during the pandemic, there has been somewhat of a change in attitude towards mental health awareness, and more importantly talking about mental health problems and solutions.

Over the last couple of years, the health benefits of cannabinoids have been widely reported, with more products containing CBD being found online and in health food shops around the world. And, given the current situation, there has been a rise in popularity in natural, hemp-based products to help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and mood-swings.

By 2027, the global CBD oil and CBD consumer health market is set to reach $123.2 billion USD. Currently available in a variety of supplements, oils, creams, serums and sprays, we are likely to see a higher number of CBD infused food and drink products being launched over the next 12-months.

UK-based company, Hempen Cooperative, has been pioneering the use of CBD in cooking oils and teas since 2015, whilst another British brand, Trip, has branched out into natural, sparkling drinks infused with 15 mg of CBD. 

Since the production and distribution of CBD products isn’t legal in all regions it is important to check the local regulations of the country you’re exporting to. The main consideration is the percentage of THC content, which is the psychoactive element of cannabis.

Alongside CBD, the number of products containing other cannabis extracts is also expected to rise. CBG (cannabigerol) and CBC (cannabichromene) demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties, whilst CBN (cannabinol) is believed to help aid insomnia.

With this in mind, it will be interesting to see the innovative uses of cannabinoids in 2021, and the impact they have on the health and wellness market.

Chickpea power

The humble chickpea has experienced quite a transformation over the last year or so, which is expected to continue into 2021. Gone are the days of simple dried and tinned chickpeas, and tubs of hummus; make way for the chickpea trailblazers.

In November 2019, US-brand Banza, received $20 million USD in funding to boost the production and distribution of their chickpea dried pasta, boxed mac and cheese, and rice. These highly nutritious products have turned a cheap and sustainable legume into a multimillion-dollar business, which is expected to take the world by storm in 2021.

Another US brand powered by chickpeas is Hippeas. You may have seen these savoury snacks, in their brightly coloured packaging, appearing on supermarket shelves over the last year. The brand has come a very long way since it was founded in 2016 and is now one of the fastest-growing natural snack food companies in the world.

In addition to savoury products, 2021 is set to make chickpea ice creams, dessert hummus, and sweet snacks, like chocolate-covered chickpeas and chickpea cookie dough, kitchen staples around the globe.

Post-pandemic immunity boost

As a result of COVID-19, the global vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) market is set to experience in excess of 25% growth by the end of 2020, continuing into the new year.

With more consumers turning to immune boosting and general wellness supplements during the pandemic, we can expect this health and wellness product category to evolve over the coming years, with a focus on organic ingredients.

Washington head quartered Barlean’s, is a family-run producer of organic supplements and functional foods focused on providing high-quality health and wellness products at an affordable price. Barlean’s most popular products are their flavoured omega-3 oils and “world famous” flax seed oil.

During the earliest stages of the Coronavirus outbreak in North America, Barlean’s produced a variety of educational guides promoting ways to boost immunity, as well as putting together packs of their products sold as “Care Kits”. Both activities have had a positive impact on sales.

At the pharmaceutical end of the VMS spectrum, companies like Pharmalinea are investing heavily in scientifically-backed supplements that meet the current needs of consumers across Europe and beyond. The Slovenian, privately-owned company is on a mission to produce vitamins and supplements which provide both short and long-term health benefits.

In October 2020, Pharmalinea published the results of a study on the vitamin D market since the start of the pandemic. According to the paper, Google Trends data illustrates a 35% increase in searches for “vitamin D” in 2020 compared to the previous year. Again, this is a brand who has benefitted from the pandemic by ramping up production of vitamin D products, which resulted in triple the turnover of 2019.

Brands, like Barlean’s and Pharmalinea, that are using the pandemic to their advantage will not only see a boost in sales but will be rewarded with loyal customers who will maximise profits going into 2021. These are just two names to keep an eye on.

Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability

2020 has been the year of conscious consumerism with many switching to brands that are environmentally aware and proven to deliver sustainable products and packaging. This is not going to slow down as we enter the new year.

One company that is paving the way to a more sustainable future is Alpro. Their “One Planet Promise” is a five-step model that will result in the following environmental impacts by 2025:

  • 30% less greenhouse gas emissions

  • 60% less water used in production

  • Zero waste sent to landfills

  • 100% recyclable, plant-based packaging

  • Partnerships with bee-friendly almond cooperatives

This Belgium-based, plant pioneering powerhouse is setting a great example for other businesses. You can read their full Sustainability Report here.

In order to maintain their market share, global brands – especially household names, like Alpro – need to be seen to be taking sustainability seriously. In a 2019 study by the Harvard Business Review, 65% of consumers said that they would prefer to buy from “purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability”.

  • So, let’s see which health and wellness brands make the shift in 2021.



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