COVID-19: 2020 Food & Beverage Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the food and beverage industry rethink what motivates consumers in 2020.

We have taken a look at how consumer habits have shifted to adapt and what we found was that offerings can still deliver indulgence and provide experiences.


Frozen Foods & Ingredients

Quarantine practices have created a shift in consumer purchasing from fresh to frozen. Consumers are increasingly looking to the frozen section to stock up on foods and produce.

This may be the beginning of a permanent shift as they find value in consistency in flavor, availability and convenience while exploring and cooking at home.

Bring the Heat

Innovation with peppers continues to grow as consumers actively seek authentic, global culinary experiences.

  • Aji Amarillo Pepper +90%
  • Fresno Pepper +81%
  • Calabrian Chili Pepper +80%
  • Shisito Pepper +66%

Datassential MenuTrends – 4-year Growth on U.S. Menus

From sweet heat to smoky heat, offer dishes that play with spicy notes. Invite curiosity with new peppers and flavor formats.

Accessible Global Flavors

Social media platforms have inspired consumers to keep exploring even when travel is limited. Demand for global sauces and spices has steadily grown as more people are cooking at home and experimenting with new flavors on their own.

  • Gochujang +162%
  • Sambal +60%
  • Harissa +52%
  • Chimichurri +44%

Datassential MenuTrends – 4-year Growth on U.S. Menus

Offering variety packs of different global flavors or including free sauce options will let consumers experiment freely.


The consumer relationship with plants is evolving. Consumers are focusing on how natural, healthy and sustainable products are, especially Gen Z. Plant-based and functional foods are growing in popularity as consumers want to understand the benefits of the ingredients they are consuming.

  • Plant-based +3,299%
  • Turmeric +191%
  • Black Garlic +77%

Datassential MenuTrends – 4-year Growth on U.S. Menus

Consumers will be willing to try something new if they trust the brand. Being transparent and informative about the process and ingredients will gain consumer trust.

Functional Beverages

Consumers are becoming more conscious about their unhealthy habits and are focusing more on their health. The coronavirus has motivated consumers to improve their overall health and lower sugar consumption, which has increased demand for alternative drinks that offer nutritional benefits and flavor.

  • Golden Milk +1000%
  • Bulletproof Coffee +500%
  • Kombucha +317%
  • Ginger Margarita +55%

Datassential MenuTrends – 4-year Growth on U.S. Menus

Using messaging that highlights specific better-for-you or functional attributes will resonate and raise health perceptions.


The pandemic caught everyone by surprise and has turned all predictions on their head. This year has truly tested creativity and new approaches to consumer/employee safety, technology and innovation.

Restaurants and grocery stores have had to find new ways to keep both their customers and employees safe while keeping sales up and keeping their doors open.

This is an opportunity to increase traffic and build loyalty by innovating and providing house bound consumers with the global flavor and cuisine experiences they crave.

Add unique global flavor across five menu items with one versatile ingredient.