Intersectionality of our current environment

You may be asking yourself, what do any of these have to do with food, coffee, or a break room? Quite a bit, we believe. And our research and data validate that these macro trends are shaping the way we eat and take breaks.




Seemingly every company (including Canteen) had a safety-centered motto or culture long before the pandemic. It typically centered on physical safety and served most companies well. But safety means something completely different now. Masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and the science of the virus became headline news & debatable topics. Safety has truly shaped our year, and we know it will remain a driving force in how we live – including how we eat, drink, and take breaks for the next three to five years as nearly every industry reacts, adjusts, and steadies.



As much as we've heard about safety over the last year, we've also heard a lot about Well-Being. This concept has arguably always been important, but taking good care of ourselves in 2020 became critical to staying safe and healthy. However, well-being is not a one-size-fits-all concept, it means something different to everyone. And companies in the well-being space stand to cash in on the fear and intensity that COVID-19 has placed on the concept of being “well”. We’ll show you the influence well-being is having on food & beverage and break down what's here to stay vs. what's just a fad.



When the pandemic forced us out of our favorite restaurant, our office, and our neighborhood gym, we found ourselves spending significantly more time outdoors, and more time at home. The events of 2020 have resulted in long-term shifts in where we spend our time, and why we spend it there. These shifts in "place" have allowed us to be more transient and flexible, leading to changes in how we eat and take breaks.

Take a look at how we believe these macro trends will intersect with more acute, shorter & medium term influences to change our food landscape.

Focus on: Intersection of Well-Being & Sustainability Plant-Based Diets

Plant-based diets have been in the news over the past few years as more US consumers are limit their intake of meat & poultry for a variety of reasons including, added hormones, expense, and supply chain issues during COVID. This year, as more people are concerned about their well-being and the well-being of our planet, the move to meatless is driven by the impact of meat on our environment.

What we know: Plant-based items (by sales) have been increasing by a statistically significant percentage for the three years prior to 2020. This year, we saw a slight decrease in the plant-based attribute, despite all of the press it received in 2020.

What we think: The reason for this is likely because of the increase of meals & super snacks being consumed in an office place – these typically have a traditional protein (meat), which may have caused the plant-based attribute to show lower.

What we predict: In 2021, we will see the increase continue at pre-covid rates, if not slightly higher.

What you should know: We’re seeing an increase in the use of plant-based certifications to certify items that are naturally plant-based (think: nuts and dried fruit). When looking at plant-based certifications, look to make sure it’s something that might normally have animal-based ingredients (cow's milk vs. oat milk) to get a clearer picture of how this attribute is impacting your eating habits.

Focus on: Intersection of Well-Being, Sustainability & Safety Single-Use Disposables

The demand for single-use disposables skyrocketed during the pandemic, with the immediate priority being on safety over sustainability. This led to shortages in both traditional and recyclable/compostable disposable options.

What we know: With some geographic exceptions, over the past five years, many major cities have been on a path to reducing landfill-bound single-use disposables, like plastic forks, cups, and clamshells. NYC even banned foam citywide.

However, when the pandemic hit, many local & regional sustainability regulations were put on pause in the name of safety.

What we think: Consumer education and re-education around the safety and sustainability of disposables will become more important, as safety remains the key driver in consumer decision making.

What we predict: The market will normalize in 2021 and 2022, however, we will see disposable usage remain higher than 2019 numbers. Eco-friendly options will be reintroduced and gain popularity as we collectively recover from this virus.

What you should know: The difference between recyclable and compostable. Check out our disposables guide to learn the subtle but important differences between the two.

Focus on: Intersection of Well-Being & Safety Increased Calorie Count

We’ve seen the calorie counts per serving of snacks and beverages decrease over the past five years as consumer behavior trends toward better portion control, smaller & more frequent snacks & better-for-you, healthier options. However, this year, despite people being focused on their well-being like never before, we save a spike in calorie counts. 

What we know: As COVID hit, consumers limited their interactions with others – including limiting the number of times they interacted with their food providers. Essentially, consumers were buying less frequently and therefore needed bigger servings, and so our data shows that manufacturers increased pack sizes and calorie counts to meet the demand.

What we think: This is a temporary hiccup in a trend of decreasing calories per serving.

What we predict: We’ll get back on track in 2021 and beyond, with a tapering off around 150 calories per serving.

Focus on: Intersection of Safety, Place, and Social Change Local & Small Business Movement

As businesses shut down, and people were forced to stay home, consumers began to see more clearly the importance and impact they had in supporting local and small businesses. Restaurants, independent coffee shops, and small grocers became the focus of ‘take out Tuesday’ and other initiatives to help keep them in business.

What we know: Thinking locally has been growing in importance, even prior to the pandemic. The emergence of programs like ‘Small Business Saturday’ as a counterpoint to Black Friday shopping has hit the mainstream in the past 10 years.

What we think: While some of the high press and focus may be a bit of a fad, exacerbated by the impact of COVID, it is our belief that acting locally is here to stay. Look for local coffee roasters to gain more popularity, and local food & beverage manufacturers to become more important within the community.

What we predict: Local and regional farmer’s markets are going to be amazing the next year. With more people staying home and cooking, baking, and making – we think there will be an abundance of tasty new items being launched locally, and we are here for it! Some of those small makers will scale their product up and that impact will be seen in your break rooms as you open back up.

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** Dates for trends data - October 2019 through September 2020 **