Shelf-Stable Pantry Goods Are Getting a Wellness Glow-Up

Photo: Brightland
All parts of wellness had a shake up this year—how we work out, what we eat, the products we put on our faces, the way we rest—and the reverberations of those changes will be felt into 2021 and beyond. Here's how the innovations born of this year will usher us into the future.

Forty-two percent of Americans say they’ll continue to load their pantries until COVID-19 is “fully resolved”—and thanks to new brand innovations, the products on our shelves in 2021 will be better than ever.

While superfoods have long hogged the spotlight in healthy eating circles, pantry staples that previously acted as supporting players just might steal the show thanks to new flavor and health upgrades. Take vinegar, which is getting the gourmet flavor treatment from brands like Acid League (which launched in August), Pineapple Collaborative (which started selling olive oil and apple cider vinegar in November 2019), Brightland (which dropped two vinegars in June), and Ramp Up (which launched in 2019 and re-packaged its vinegars in June). Or tuna, which is leaning into sustainability with new-to-2020 products like Wild Catch from Chicken of the Sea (which features wild-caught tuna and zero preservatives) and Bumblebee Tuna Pouches (portable, seasoned, wild-caught tuna). Even canned soups are adapting—this fall, Gardein dropped the first canned soup with plant-based meat, while Swanson added new flavors featuring Moroccan and Chinese spices to its Sipping Bone Broth line.

The pantry has also created an opportunity for brands to bring restaurant flavors directly to home chefs, says Marguerite Mariscal, the CEO of Momofuku. The brand launched its first line of pantry goods in September, featuring its famed Chili Crunch seasoning and a trio of seasoned salts. (You can join the wait list for Momofuku’s gourmet soy sauce and tamari, which launched in December and already sold out.) Similarly, Omsom, which sells shelf-stable sauce and spice kits for core Southeast and East Asian dishes like bulgogi and larb, launched this year with the help of nearly a dozen NYC-based chefs. (It just dropped three new kits in late October.) And spice retailer Spiceology pivoted to focus on home chefs after the pandemic ate its restaurant and catering business. With $4.7 million in new funding secured in September, it’s safe to assume the brand will continue to expand its offerings—starting with a new six-product collaboration with Huy Fung Sriracha in time for the holidays.

Heading into 2021, you can expect further innovations from 2020’s newcomers to meet demand. Acid League, for example, is releasing vinegar-based non-alcoholic wine in December and plans to bring three new vinaigrettes to Whole Foods in February. And other established pantry players will expand their reach in 2021—Chinese condiment brand Lee Kum Kee plans to launch shelf-stable, heat-and-eat noodle and rice bowls at grocery stores nationwide in early 2021. With so much innovation, we’re betting the pantry will be your new favorite part of the kitchen next year.

Explore the rest of our 2021 Wellness Trends.

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