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The biggest food trends of 2020

Yahoo Finance’s Alexandra Canal and Brooke DiPalma break down the biggest food trends of 2020.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: There is no doubt that it has been a record-breaking year for the alternative protein industry. Plant-based sector continue to evolve with meat-free trends and dairy-free alternatives. Here with a look back at some of the food trends of the year we have Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal and Brook DiPalma.

Hey, guys. So I'm going to start with you, Alexandra. Talk to us a little bit about those fake meat offerings, and what might we expect in 2021?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Absolutely. So we know that the health conscious consumer has really emerged over the past few years. That trend is only going to continue to happen. But if we take a look back at 2020, it really represents a solidifying year for this industry. Plant-based meat has just been exploding.

Let's start with Beyond Meat. That's one of the more recognizable names in this space. The stock is up over 85% year-to-date on the heels of some pretty impressive product innovations and company partnerships. So they did launch Beyond Meatballs earlier this fall. And they enlisted the help of Costco to roll that out.

Costco obviously a very impressive name in the food space. And it follows other key partnerships for Beyond Meat, including Qdoba, Subway, Pizza Hut. That Beyond-Pizza Hut partnership happened in 2020, and it represented a historic one, Pizza Hut being the first pizza brand to roll out a fake meat option nationwide.

Beyond that, if we look at Impossible Foods, they also had some key partnerships earlier this year. First, we had Starbucks, which was announced in January. Starbucks rolling out the Impossible breakfast sandwich, that is a very appropriate follow up to Burger King's wildly successful Impossible Whopper.

And then one month later, Impossible saying that they are partnering with Disney. There will be Impossible products at Disney World, Disneyland, on the Disney cruise lines. And even beyond that, we have other companies getting in on this fake meat trend. Kellogg's, Nestle, Tyson, McDonald's, they will be releasing the McPlant sometime in 2021.

They have partnered with several producers to make that fake meat burger. One of those producers will be Beyond Meat. However, it's important to know that this is not going to be called the Beyond Meat burger. This will be called the McPlant, so something to keep in mind as McDonald's looks to become a really big competitor in this space.

And I did speak to several analysts about what all of these companies need to do in order to take it to the next level. And they told me that they need to continue innovating both their product offerings as well as the nutritional value within those products. And if they can do both of those things while also lowering the cost, they'll hit the jackpot.

So still a lot of room to run in 2021. And I think the pandemic really accelerated these trends. According to the "Wall Street Journal," citing Nielsen data, sales of fake meat surged over 260% in the early innings of the pandemic with Beyond Meat leading that trend. So still a lot to work with here.

I personally am a big fan of these options. And I think 2020 really just sealed the deal when it comes to consumer interest.

BRIAN CHEUNG: OK, well, shifting from alternative meat to alternative milk, it seems like you go into a coffee shop, you ask for milk in your coffee, and now these days, it's like, what do you want? Do you want lactaid or oat or almond? Like, is there going to be, like, a cactus milk sometime soon? Let's go to Brooke now. What's the trend in 2020 over some of those alternative milk offerings?

BROOKE DIPALMA: Brian, no cactus milk just yet. However, I do want to point out that there is a variety of options when it comes to dairy alternatives. You know, according to Tastewise, that's a food intelligence platform, it's really on the rise. Year-over-year, almond milk a long time player in the gain, up 30-- in the game, rather, up 30%, cashew milk up 43%, hemp milk up 15%.

And oat milk, the true winner here, up 93% year-over-year. Now, I want to take a closer look at oat milk. In particular, they're now available on 2%, a little over 2%, rather, on restaurant menus nationwide. And in addition to that, heading into 2021, this is a trend to look out for. Gen Z, millennials certainly sipping those lattes with that oat milk.

Month over month, there's a 5% growth, making way, according to Tastewise. Now, major food brands are also taking note of this trend. Earlier this year in August, Dunkin' released an oat milk option using Planet Oat. Now, Planet Oat is a subsidiary brand of HP Hood, a long, long time dairy giant.

Now, they recently-- not only did they launch this product, but they're also launching a menu item with this product. Starbucks doing exactly the same. You know, back in April, they launched oat milk in China stores. Now earlier in December, Starbucks says that it's going to team up with Oatly. They are going to use another oat mlik brand in order to launch this product nationwide coming in 2021.

Right now, only available in the Midwest and California. Oatly, a brand to keep a note of. Although not publicly traded, back in July, Blackstone got a $200 million stake within Oatly. That came around a lot of attraction due to the fact that Blackstone, somewhat of a controversial backing to this new oat milk brand.

Although not new, it is new to US. It's a Swedish vegan group, new to the US in that sense. However, keep in mind, as we make way into 2021, another thing that you might notice is that you head down these dairy aisles, you're going to notice a lot more consumer-packaged goods. Nestle teaming up with Starbucks.

Now, in addition to that, Silk, also a long time brand. And I do want to note that PepsiCo did try their hand in this oat milk market innovation back in 2019, trying to diversify there with an oat beverage as opposed to an oat milk. But they since took that off the shelves. So really lots of testing innovation, people look out in 2021, for sure.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: My gosh, a dizzying amount of choices, Brooke and Alexandra. So I guess if you're looking for that last minute Christmas gift, Alexandra, KFC has just launched a game console that will keep our chicken warm. I guess we didn't know we needed this until they came out with it.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: You know, it's funny, because this does not surprise me. KFC is known for their wacky brand collaborations, marketing schemes. Earlier this year, we saw them partner with Crocs. A couple weeks ago, they released a mini movie on Lifetime for promotion starring, of course, Mario Lopez as Colonel Sanders.

But yes, this is a new custom-built console from KFC, who partnered with hardware manufacturer Cooler Master. It's Intel-operated, it keeps the console cool, but then certain components of it also heat the chicken chamber. So you can be on your games, playing your gaming against other people, and then also have your bite of chicken.

Now, I'm personally not a gamer, but maybe I would be if I had this product. But again, nothing new to see here from KFC. Totally on brand for them.

BRIAN CHEUNG: I have no comment to make on that. I'm a gamer, but I never thought about using chicken eating and playing games at the same time. Seems kind of messy for the consoles. But anyway, Brooke DiPalma and Ally Canal, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.