In my December column, I pointed to two areas of particular consumer interest — products that boost immune health and products that target the microbiome — that will spell innovation opportunity for dairy processors in 2021. Those areas of interest are huge, but they are not the only trends that bode well for dairy in the New Year.


Help them lose

Much has been said and written about the “quarantine 15” — the extra pounds many consumers packed on during shutdowns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Imbibe Inc., a Niles, Ill.-based beverage development company, consumers will focus on shedding those pounds in 2021.

The company points to a 2020 survey from OnePoll revealing that more than half of American consumers plan to increase their workout regimen, “which creates opportunity for sports nutrition brands to branch out to a new audience.” Brands (including dairy-based brands) could differentiate by formulating with clean-label and/or diet-friendly ingredients, as well as by “incorporating multiple functional ingredients in a single product to give consumers more bang for their buck.”


Help them age well

One of the “Top Trends for 2021” Innova Market Research calls out for food and beverages is “Tailored to Fit.” According to the Arnhem, Netherlands-based company, personalized nutrition will be pushed further into the spotlight globally. Of particular interest here, for both seniors and younger demographics already engaging with preventive care, are products that help them age well.

Products that address joint health, energy/alertness, brain health and bone health, therefore, could be a winning area of product development for dairy processors. In addition, foods and beverages that aim to enhance physical appearance are of growing interest, Innova Market Research says.


Help the planet

Another major trend — one that has been around for quite a while but has been gaining steam — is sustainability. For 2021, Chicago-based ingredient company ADM predicts it will take “center stage.” Research based on the company’s proprietary OutsideVoice consumer insights platform found that about two-thirds (65%) of consumers want to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions.

“This is a key reason why 32% of consumers buy sustainably produced items,” ADM says. “The growing awareness of our collective impact on the environment has elicited increasing demand for companies to demonstrate their sustainability commitment beyond just the end product to responsible sourcing and operating standards.”

Many dairy processors are already leaning heavily into this particular “trend.” The key to success here will be communicating those behind-the-scenes sustainability efforts to consumers — in a way they can understand.