COVID-19 Food and Nutrition Trends


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the types of nutritional foods Americans are seeking out. Top trends include plant-based, immune-boosting foods and satisfying snacks.  

NEW YORK, Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — New consumer insights reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way Americans are eating. Carbs are back, snacking is up and home cooks are experimenting with more partially plant-based, where meat or poultry may be blended with veggies, nuts or whole grains.

These are a few of the nutrition mega trends discussed among national nutrition media, food industry executives and trend forecasters at the Nutrition News Update conference presented by Appetite for Health being held this week. Other top trends include flexible or blended plant-based meals, immune-boosting recipes and increased demand for wholesome carbohydrates from whole grains like oats, ancient grains like sorghum and whole grain-based cereal.

The conference brings together food industry marketers and nutrition scientists with the nation’s leading food and nutrition media representing more than 80 top-tier media outlets including Prevention, Women’s Health, Shape, Cooking Light, Martha Stewart Living, Dr. Oz, Yahoo and MSN.

“We knew first-hand as food and nutrition media professionals how COVID-19 was disrupting the ways Americans eat, but the data presented really clarify much of what we believed to be happening in consumers’ kitchens,” explained Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., co-founder of Appetite for Health, the organizer behind Nutrition News Update. “Individuals are seeking out more vitamin C-rich foods like citrus and berries as well as probiotics, in an effort to help improve immune health.”

Another mega nutrition trend highlighted at the meeting is the shift to more of a flexible, plant-based diet where individuals may blend veggies, like chopped fresh mushrooms, nuts or whole grains into ground meat or poultry dishes to reduce their overall consumption of animal-based products. “Look for more ‘blended’ plant-forward burgers, meatballs and other products on supermarket shelves in the near future,” predicted Katherine Brooking, M.S., R.D., co-founder of Appetite for Health. “These products appeal to more of the “flexitarian” eaters rather than strict vegetarians who seek 100% plant-based alternatives to meat-based products.”

As consumers take fewer trips to grocery stores due to the pandemic, they now purchase more frozen foods and pantry staples to make home-cooked meals. Shoppers are also seeking out more veggie- and fruit-infused foods and beverages that are more nutritious with no added sugar or artificial ingredients. With anxiety and stress levels soaring, foods, beverages and supplements formulated to support sleep and mental well-being are on trend.

In addition to health and wellness, shoppers are also prioritizing local and sustainable choices whenever possible. Food and  beverage brands that have a good story to tell about sustainability, climate, animal welfare, nutrition and social responsibility will likely be the winners during this pandemic period that has exposed many issues in the global food supply chain.

About Appetite for Health

Appetite for Health is an award-winning nutrition communications firm founded by registered dietitians, Katherine Brooking and Julie Upton. The firm has been providing nutrition content for national broadcast, print and e-media for more than a decade.