Get ready to discover the 12 best wholesale products to sell online as a food business in 2021. From high-quality vegan candy to organic eggs and immune-boosting herbal tea. This year, wholesalers should focus on vitamin-rich, superfood, and meat-free, dairy-free alternatives with this rise of veganism and health-conscious millennials. So, let’s take a look at how to find the most in-demand products to sell online and then discuss 12 rising food items that you might want to start selling in 2021.
How to find suitable products to sell online
How do you find new in-demand products to sell online on an e-commerce store?
Market research helps wholesalers identify gaps in the market and new opportunities to expand their product range online. As a food business, analyzing the market, buyer trends, and consumer behavior helps you gather relevant data and information that will reveal suitable products to sell online.
Start with your unique customer base. Do you supply goods to small independent restaurants and coffee shops, luxury international hotel chains, or international distributors? Knowing exactly who your target audience is will help guide you when considering which trending products your buyers might be interested in. Ideally, you’ll want to capitalize on trends within the food and drinks industry early as a wholesaler and grow your product range based on your professional experience as well as providing a high-quality in-demand product.
Once you’ve established your customer base, it’s time to carry out specific market research in relation to food, ingredients, snacks, and groceries that are rising in popularity online. Look out for significant shifts in consumer behavior, such as growing demand for vegan goods or a rising concern about the food manufacturing industry. You can also check out Alibaba.com Industry Reports, for category data performance, market size, top buying countries, and top trending products.
Ongoing market research can help small and large-scale wholesale suppliers make better data-driven decisions and find underserved customer segments that your competition has neglected. This gives you a new customer base to reach out to and increases your sales potential online. Pay close attention to customer pain points and always consider barriers to purchase that may be preventing buyers from placing an order with you!
12 best food products to sell in 2021
1: Organic eggs
As more people choose organic eggs, commercial egg production has fallen out of favor due to the growing health concerns surrounding the use of hormones, drugs, and antibiotics in factory farming. According to recent data from the Soil Association¹, sales of organic eggs are experiencing double-digit growth, which makes this particular item an excellent opportunity for food businesses.
Since more people are moving towards a vegetarian or plant-based diet, consumers are paying closer attention to their food and the quality of food they are buying. For restaurants, caterers, and supermarkets, offering organic eggs is now essential to create happy and loyal customers. Sales of organic eggs increased by 4.5% in 2019, one of the strongest performers in the organic food market.² Organic eggs must come from laying chickens who have access to outdoor space and cannot be raised in cages. Induced molting is not allowed, and feed must be free of synthetic fertilizers, animal by-products, pesticides, and other chemical additives. If antibiotics are used, they should only be given to treat an infection.
2: Vegan cheese
The growing shift towards a plant-based diet is also impacting the dairy market. Sales of vegan cheese are estimated to reach $4425.6 million by 2027, a 15.5% increase from 2021.³ A dairy-free alternative to cheese, vegan cheese is often made from soy protein, coconut oil, or pea protein. Vegan cheese is not only a great alternative to regular cheese for vegans but also provides a delicious treat for those who are lactose-intolerant too. According to data from the National Library of Medicine in 2018, over 50% of the world struggles to digest lactose after infancy. So, there is clearly a massive market to supply. 4
In response to the growing number of vegans, restaurants are now offering vegan meals as part of their menus, swapping dairy for vegan cheese or nut-based milk alternatives. From vegan cheesecake to vegan pizza, wholesalers able to supply high-quality vegan cheese would do well to take advantage of this niche and the under-serviced market now.
3: Plant-based meat alternatives
While meatless meat isn’t a new concept, alternative meat, such as Beyond Meat burgers and Impossible Burger, are helping meat-lovers switch to plant-based diets. In fact, the global meat substitutes sector is worth $20.7 billion and growing by the day. This particular market is forecast to rise to around $35.5 billion by 2027, making it a highly attractive industry to move into as an online wholesale food supplier. From burger patties that look, smell, and taste like meat, to veggie alternatives such as pea protein, mushroom burgers, and falafel, there is certainly a growing demand for meat-free food.5
Wholesalers looking to move into this market should consider ways to use vegetables and natural proteins to replicate popular meat-based dishes as well as new and innovative food specifically designed for vegetarians and vegans.
4: Immune-boosting superfood
The global pandemic continues to impact daily life around the world, but one thing Covid-19 has positively impacted is consumer interest in healthcare and superfoods. Immune-supporting food such as turmeric, leafy greens, berries, and seeds remain extremely popular for their superfood qualities. Bacteria, germs, and viruses can invade and attack the body, weakening the immune system and causing life-threatening illnesses. One way to protect ourselves against significant health concerns is to increase our consumption of antioxidant superfoods.
Rich in vitamins, minerals, and key nutrients, superfoods can strengthen the immune system and help our body’s natural defense fight off deadly infections. So, if you’re searching for new products to offer as a food business online, consider blueberries, raspberries, spinach, arugula, microgreens, mushrooms, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Supply products to supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and health stores both locally and overseas.
5: Matcha tea
Matcha, a fine and highly concentrated Japanese green tea powder, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to have been the secret weapon of samurai warriors. Matcha tea is identified by its intense green pigment and is becoming popular worldwide as a delicious drink or natural ingredient to flavor food. Able to promote relaxation and help focus the mind for long periods of time, you can enjoy a high dose of nutrients in a single serving. Popular among the health-conscious and plant-based community, the global matcha tea market size was estimated to be worth $1.63 billion in 2018 and is forecast to rise by 4.7%. 6
While traditionally matcha tea is made into cold or hot drinks, this organic ingredient is also being used in both savory and sweet recipes, including cakes, doughnuts, salad dressings, and cocktails. Matcha tea powder is also gaining popularity within the global cosmetic industry due to its high antioxidant content.
6: Vegan candy
The international vegan confectionery market was valued at $816.0 million in 2019, and experts expect it to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8% from 2020 to 2027. 7Spurred on by the number of people choosing to follow a vegan diet now, the global vegan candy market is an attractive opportunity for anyone with experience in the wholesale food business. Social media influencers on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, dedicated to the vegan lifestyle, have been encouraging people to shift to a plant-based diet over the past couple of years, which has no doubt contributed to this incredible market growth. From gelatin-free to specialist halal candy, there is undoubtedly a demand for high-quality vegan chocolate, halal gummies, and hard-boiled candy around the world.
7: Edible flowers
Enhancing drinks, desserts, and dishes, edible flowers are gaining popularity online. Not only can these delicate flowers make your meal look more attractive, but many carry additional health benefits too. In the past, edible flowers were reserved for fine dining restaurants and cocktail bars, but with social media platforms encouraging people to share pictures of their at-home creations, sales of edible flowers are on the rise. However, information about where to buy such items is still scarce, so wholesalers hoping to expand into this blossoming market should aim to educate customers and offer fast and convenient shipping. Guides and inspiration content will also help to position an edible flower wholesaler as an industry leader online. To give yourself an edge over your competitors, consider offering edible flowers that have health benefits such as hibiscus, dandelion, lavender, rose, and honeysuckle.
8: Plant protein
With global concerns regarding the quality and sustainability of meat and animal products, the plant protein market is undergoing rapid growth. The pea-based protein market is projected to grow considerably over the next 5 years, and the global mushroom protein market is estimated to surpass $1.02 billion by 2023, a 6.92% increase from 2018.8
Mushroom protein, considered a powerful and natural source of antibacterial agents, has been found helpful to reduce stress, boost energy and increase mental focus and stamina. Ideal for the vegetarian and vegan market, the scientific community is becoming more inclined to the efficiency of mushroom protein in relation to health and mental wellbeing. Using a mushroom protein powder is a great alternative to meat and provides intermediate nutritional qualities. Edible mushroom protein can help prevent deadly diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases and support lean muscle mass.
9: High-quality olive oil
The European market for olive oil is expected to grow steadily by 3 to 5% from 2021 to 2026, but it can be difficult to find high-quality organic olive oil in the US. If you already sell food overseas and supply European goods to the US, perhaps expanding your product range to include Italian extra virgin olive oil would be a good move in 2021.
The Mediterranean diet praised for its immune-supporting health benefits is popular around the world, and if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s how important a healthy diet and regular exercise is for the body to fight off potentially life-threatening viral infections. Since olive oil is naturally extracted from olives and is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, it can help protect the body from cellular damage. When you consider the rising cases of heart disease in the US, the growing popularity of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet is understandable. And if that isn’t enough food for thought, according to recent data, the olive oil market is set to hit $16.64 billion by 2027.9
10: Specialist herbal tea
Relieving work-related stress, easing anxiety, and helping to promote a good night’s sleep, herbal tea is another interesting product to sell online in 2021. As people become more aware of how caffeine and dehydration can impact health and wellness, specialist herbal tea with remarkable health benefits is becoming a big business around the world. Investing time into self-care and focusing on alternative ways to combat stress and mental health conditions, herbal teas such as chamomile, turmeric, mint, rose, and peppermint is all trending online.
If you do wish to start selling herbal tea online, consider offering an experience in a cup. Choose a self-blossoming flower tea collection, which will delight customers when they brew a cup of tea. Or, add value to your products by creating hand-blended infusions designed for certain times of the day, such as an invigorating morning tea, an afternoon pick-me-up, and a late-night caffeine-free blend for a relaxing and delicious way to end the day.
11: Gluten-free food
Sales of gluten-free food are expected to expand in the next four years, from $5.6 billion to $8.3 billion. Gluten, a protein typically found in wheat, rye, and barley, can cause health problems. If consumed by people who have celiac disease, it will cause significant discomfort and pain and can even damage their intestinal tracts. While gluten contains no nutritional value, it is often used in pizza, bread, pastries, pasta, and cakes, which is why it can be difficult to avoid eating. Gluten has also been linked to bloating, although there is no scientific evidence that food with gluten causes weight gain when compared to other food. Yet, more people than ever before are searching the supermarket aisles for gluten-free goods. So, as a food wholesaler, why not meet this rising demand and offer a range of gluten-free food online! The market is continuing to grow, and a survey of US consumers back in 2017 found that people who buy gluten-free bread do so as a lifestyle choice, not because they have an intolerance.
12: Organic coffee
Over two-thirds of Americans drink coffee every single day, making the caffeine market a massive business opportunity for anyone already selling food products online. While around 200 million Americans prepare a cup of joe in the morning every day, the global coffee demand is bigger still. In March 2021, world coffee exports reached 11.94 million bags, up from 2020 (11.66 million bags). In the first six months of 2020/2021, coffee exports have increased by 3.5%, despite ongoing travel restrictions and longer shipping timeframes. Yet, organic coffee is still a gem worth investing in. As organic standards vary from country to country, it can be difficult to label coffee as organic and ship worldwide. But, if you’re able to solve this coffee conundrum this year, there are certainly beans to be made in the business. Organic coffee in Europe is the second-largest single organic market in the world. With COVID-19 triggering a rising demand for organic products, the market is expected to steadily grow over the next couple of years.
Frequently asked questions about starting an online food business
Starting out as a new wholesaler on an online marketplace can feel a little overwhelming at first, but there are many ways to make this process simple and straightforward. Whether you’re an entrepreneur hoping to move into the herbal tea industry, or a superfood distributor interested in expanding to the US, Alibaba.com has plenty of free online resources and step-by-step guides to put your mind at ease.
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions people have when they want to start an online food business:
1: How do I start exporting food as a wholesale supplier?
Setting yourself up as a wholesaler and distributor can be a little tricky at first, but if you take your time, the process can be easy to follow and pretty straightforward. As a wholesale supplier, you’ll likely be dealing with large orders, so it’s good to figure out your product range, local and international shipping process, returns policy, and minimum order quantity before launching your business online. If you’re completely new to selling online as a whole supplier, we highly recommend reading our guide first: How to start a wholesale business for a beginner?
2: How can I start selling and exporting goods to the US?
We’ve certainly mentioned the US market a lot in this article, so how can you take advantage of this attractive and growing market? Well, we’ve actually created a comprehensive online guide for global suppliers and non-US manufacturers interested in exporting to the US: How to sell and export goods to the US?
3: How do inventory, fulfillment, wholesale price, and purchase work on an online marketplace?
When you create a business profile on an online marketplace, you’ll need to list the products that you want to sell accurately. You’ll also need an inventory that is automatically updated when a customer purchases a product. This helps prevent ‘out of stock’ issues and cash flow problems.
The wholesale price is what a retailer or B2B customer will be charged for the goods. But the end consumer will usually pay a higher fee which is known as the retail price. A wholesaler may also offer discounts for large bulk orders and repeat customers.
Fulfillment is when you successfully fulfill an order and generate happy customers. This can have a positive impact on customer reviews and future success online. An online marketplace such as Amazon will typically have guides and information to help manufacturers, wholesalers, and other sellers set up a professional profile, list their items, and start selling to customers from around the world. Alibaba.com has a hub of business blogs to educate, inform and support sellers in a wide range of areas.
Find your customers: sell on Alibaba.com
So, if you now feel inspired to start selling food wholesale products online, it’s time to set up a wholesale business profile on Alibaba.com. As the world’s largest provider of b2b e-commerce solutions, Alibaba.com empowers wholesaler suppliers and makes selling food around the world easier than ever.
Whether you want to export halal, vegan candy to the US, edible flowers to Asia, or Matcha tea to Europe, get ready to reach and connect with customers locally and overseas in minutes. Take advantage of the wide range of articles, guides, and information available on Alibab.com and learn about the top trending products, changes in consumer behavior, and exciting opportunities to grow your business.
Connect with over 14 million users, ready to buy, and scale up an existing food business or make 2021 the year you launch as a specialist food wholesale supplier. Sign up today and make the most out of our B2B marketplace.