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Plant-based, smart and climate-friendly: The 10 most important nutrition trends in 2021

More and more people are making more conscious food choices and are following a sustainable diet. So, what are the trends that will shape the food sector in the coming decade? NUTRITION HUB interviewed 75 experts. This is how they responded.

Image 1: The 10 most important nutrition trends in 2021, Image 2: 10 of the 75 nutrition experts surveyed (c) NUTRITION HUB

We are in the midst of one of the most exciting decades in the history of human nutrition: Knowledge on the subject matter is expanding rapidly, start-ups are challenging established business models. Nutrition has become the hottest topic on social media. On top of that comes the climate crisis, which is forcing us to become sustainable consumers, and the prospect of 4 billion people being overweight by 2050. These are reasons enough to focus on the future of nutrition.

Which developments will shape the coming decade? We asked 75 experts about the most defining trends in the food sector. The results are reflected in the Nutrition Report 2021. The report does not analyze short-lived food trends, nor does it include any consumer surveys. Instead, nutrition experts exclusively reveal which eating behaviours they are observing: What do people eat? Why and how do they eat? And how do they feel about it?

The good news: More and more people care about their diets and are trying to ensure that what is on their plates is both healthy and delicious. At the same time, many developments in the food sector are so profound that they will have a long-lasting impact. But what exactly do these include? Read here about the 10 nutrition trends in 2021.

The 10 nutrition trends in 2021

1. Vegan and plant-based nutrition

72% of the experts surveyed named vegan and plant-based nutrition as the most important development of the coming decade. Martin Schlatzer, a scientist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, explains: “The Covid-19 outbreaks in slaughterhouses have sharpened the critical view consumers take on intensive animal husbandry and increased awareness for plant-based diets.” A growing number of consumers are consulting experts to learn more about diets that predominantly consist of legumes, cereals, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits – and barely contain animal products. These are the pivotal points: How can I put such a diet into practice? Which plant-based alternatives to milk or meat can I use? And how healthy are these alternatives, anyway?

2. Personalized Nutrition

At 59%, personalized nutrition is the second most important development of the coming decade. This means that individual concepts are created to adapt diets to personal preferences and needs, physical conditions, and athletic ambitions.

3. Climate-smart and sustainable eating

As the third trend, 55% of the experts named a climate-smart and sustainable diet which means a diet that has little impact on the environment. Helen Bauhaus, an expert from the German Sport University Cologne explains why this is a growing trend: “The increasing diversity of plant-based foods is also attracting people who struggle to go without animal products.”

4. Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating

Fourth on the list is Healthy at every Size (HAES®) und Intuitive Eating. HAES® is a scientifically proven and weight-neutral programme to boost health and wellbeing. This trend lays emphasis on self-acceptance, an intuitive diet, and exercise. It moves away from the pursuit of beauty standards and unvarying body types, focusing instead on mindfulness and individual wellbeing.

5. Food myths and false information

25% of the experts surveyed placed myths and false information 5th on the list of the ten most important trends. There is a clear general sentiment that misconceptions in the field of nutrition are indeed widespread. Dietitians and therapists are seeing an increase in clients and patients who are confused by misinformation. Dietitian Edith Sichtbar’s patients, for instance, often ask her about specific food myths. They want to “know if there is any substance to those myths”. Her colleague Susanne Lindenthal reports that ever more people heed the advice given by influencers on social media. However, her clients can hardly assess whether or not this information is scientifically accurate. Lena Schwind, another dietitian, has been observing an increase in psychosomatic health problems caused by food myths.

6. Workplace Health Promotion

The experts ranked Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) 6th on the list at 21%. According to the definition of the German Federal Ministry of Health, it is a vital component of occupational health management. Nutrition and company catering are covered by statutory health insurance. “A lifestyle involving a lot of sitting and a poor diet continues to be a big problem. The associated risks need to be reduced”, says Helen Bauhaus of the German Sport University Cologne. Caroline Ackermann from the studio for nutrition counselling Dr. AMBROSIUS is seeing a growing demand amongst companies: “Employers now understand the connection between a healthy diet and a healthy and productive workforce. Covid-19 is contributing to this awareness.” Besides, this helps employers make themselves more attractive and keep skilled employees for a longer time. According to Holger Pfefferle, an expert at the German Nutrition Society, healthy meals at the workplace constitute an increasingly important factor when choosing an employer.

7. Nutrition education

For 20% of the experts, nutrition education ranks 7th on the list of the ten most important developments in the coming decade. Prof. Simone Peschke (Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin) describes nutrition education as imperative for the whole of society because relevant knowledge and practical implementation is hardly passed on within families. Starting in 2021, Dr. Margareta Büning-Fesel, head of the Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE), will be established at the request of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture a special division for nutrition education, promoting among other things training and networking opportunities. Furthermore, the curricula of the different German federal states are increasingly including educational programmes focusing on nutrition and sustainable developments. Anna Rechenberger (nutrition expert at “Kantine Zukunft”) emphasises that educators increasingly recognise nutrition as an educational mission and are starting to integrate the topic into the guiding principles of their nurseries. On the whole, all experts agree that there is already plenty of promotion around nutrition education, but it is nowhere near enough.

8. Meal replacement and takeaways

17% of the experts surveyed rank meal replacement and takeaway meals 8th on the list. Holger Pfefferle sees a connection between the trend towards mobile working and flexible working hours and the growing popularity of flexible meals. Takeaway meals play a decisive role in this.

9. Digitalization in nutrition therapy

16% of the experts surveyed see digitalization in nutrition therapy in ninth position of the trend ranking. The deployment of digital technologies has seen an enormous increase in nutrition therapy in 2020 because when working from home – which is often linked to weight gain – employees are more open to digital solutions.

10. Awareness for a healthy diet

For 12% of the experts surveyed, awareness for a healthy diet comes last on the list of the ten most important developments of the coming decade.

portraits of nutrition experts
16 of the 75 interviewed nutrition experts

Data gathering: The survey was conducted between November 20th and December 6th, 2020 by means of an online questionnaire. All experts surveyed are members of the Nutrition Hub Expert Circle and are diet assistants, dietetics graduates, nutritionists, dieticians, nutritional physicians, food technologists, or food chemists. The experts did not receive any compensation for taking part in the survey.


As the surveys for the Nutrition Trend Report 2021 was done in German the whole version of the report is written in German only. If you have any questions about the report we are happy to provide you with more information. Get in touch:


This article was written by Dr. Simone K. Frey - Founder NUTRITION HUB, Roxanna Rokosa - Head of PR & Digital Communication, and

Lisa Bosbach - Editor

Would you like to get in touch with us or the nutrition experts about these trends? Then send us an email to

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(from left to right) Dr. Simone K. Frey - Founder NUTRITION HUB,

Roxanna Rokosa - Head of PR & Digital Communication, Lisa Bosbach - Editor


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