PLAY's product picks of 2021

by: PLAY

We're turning our “best-kept secrets” into our “best-shared secrets” by spilling the beans on some of the PLAY team’s favourite new snacks, recipes and ingredients we've discovered during lockdown this year.

We’re highlighting key themes and trends that winning products have nailed in 2021, whether they’re brand new innovations or simply recently reinterpreted (since we all have plenty of time at home these days!).

new-foods-to-try-working-from-homeTaryn | Coles Pizza Kits

During the depths of a winter lockdown, nothing quite hits the spot like weekend pizza, right? Particularly when you pair it with the convenience of buying the basics from Coles and getting to create your own food adventure at home - quickly, easily and exactly how YOU like it.

“I LOVE pizza, but I struggle to find all the toppings I want when ordering in – especially fresh avo. This just doesn’t seem to be a thing in Australia (I’m from South Africa). So, I often make my own pizzas at home. I used to buy the ready-made pepperoni option from Coles and add the rest of the toppings myself, but I always hated how thick the dough was – I’m a thin and crispy girl all the way! So, when I found thin bases at Coles, I was beyond STOKED. They don’t have any tomato sauce, but I quickly found my second life-changing product – Coles Squeezy Pizza Sauce. Together, they make the most delicious pizzas I’ve ever had… AND I can eat as much avo as I like, without judgement!”

easy-pizza-recipes-for-lockdown-home-cookingChris | Gourmet Dining at Home Kitchen Curries

You might have heard that Passage to India Curry Bowls made it to the Product of the Year awards in 2021 thanks to their convenience, health credentials and authentic taste experience. Well, Chris (PLAY’s founder), has a favourite curry that ticks all of those boxes - and maybe even more! Check it out...

“The Gourmet Dining curry range isn’t new, just recently discovered by our family. The meals are locally produced (in Mosman) and I reckon they’re the best ready-made curries we’ve ever found! They aren’t particularly cheap ($20-$25 serves two), but they taste amazing and live conveniently in the freezer. To prepare, you just place the whole bag in a pan of water for 25 minutes, so there is no mess either! I love that they still feel a bit special and make a perfect substitute for a takeaway. Our favourite flavour is Kashmiri Chicken. You can find them in the freezer section of local delis and premium grocers. Pro tip: the curries go really well with the Supreme Roti from Woolies!”


Michael | Orion Security Camera with Grid Connect

If you, like many other Australians, decided to welcome a dog into your home during lockdown (hello, 24/7 snuggles!), then you may now be confronted with the issue of making sure they’re content (and not destroying the place) when we are allowed back at the office.

While it’s technically outside of our usual product remit, the PLAY team is partial to a gadget or two (and a puppy… or five!), so we thought we’d share this nifty piece of kit with you because it hits the mark for convenience, cost, ease of use and more.

“Earlier this year, we were having issues keeping an eye on our dog at home because we had a camera that wouldn’t connect to our phones. So, we purchased an Orion Security Camera with Grid Connect, which has proven to be a huge improvement! The Orion is easy to use, accessible, high resolution and has inbuilt technology that follows the object as well as an inbuilt microphone. The ability to connect online is amazing and our whole family has got it working with their phones. A great little purchase! You can get it from Bunnings for $75.”


Andrew | Coles Taste Traders

In 2021 and beyond, consumers are looking to turn their snack game UP! This means brands are going beyond standard convenience food expectations to incorporate exciting new flavour profiles and create a hint of luxury on the go. We think this example really takes the biscuit...

“Coles has introduced a range of savoury biscuits called Taste Traders. Rather than playing with the old faithful BBQ/pizza flavours or following the nostalgia path (e.g. vegemite), this new range explores “tastes of the world”. I love this because it aims to bring multicultural flavours into the home through an accessible format during a time when we don’t have the luxury of international travel. The beef rendang has flavours of roasted coconut, a solid umami/savoury base and a hint of spice, which all speak to the culinary style they’re trying to recreate. I could see myself making a little spicy dip to go alongside these.”


Becky | Kalettes

We’ve seen lots of cross-category collaborations and unlikely partnerships making innovative moves lately to keep lockdown life interesting (have you tried 4 Pines x Ben & Jerry's Choc Chip Cookie Dough Nitro Beer?! You’re welcome...). So, just when we started getting bored of the same groundhog day vegetables, Aussie farmers have brought us a new Frankenstein monster to enjoy! Broccolini is officially old news because it’s kalette’s turn in the limelight. And what’s more innovative than creating an entirely new vegetable?! Plus, these guys get bonus points because they’re grown locally in Australia.

“I have been absolutely loving kalettes this winter. They are a cross between a brussel sprout and kale, but I don’t think you have to really like either to love these. The flavour is mild, sweet and nutty - and they feel like quite a treat (I think because they are seasonal and not always in stock). Kalettes go perfectly with wintery Italian meals and classic British/Aussie meals, especially a roast dinner. There is no bitterness at all, so I think this pairing overcomes some of the barriers for both kale and brussel sprouts individually – and it helps that they look cool!”


Kat | All the nostalgia

While innovation is often about creating new experiences, comfort and nostalgia have been hot topics during a pretty cold and lonely lockdown winter. When thinking about what drives consumers to purchase, it always comes back to satisfying unmet needs, so you can see why 2021 has required a lot of cosy #treatyourself moments at home.

“During lockdown this winter, I’ve retreated into nostalgia and comfort food. I asked my mum for her old rice pudding recipe, which I make whenever I want something warm, filling and sweet. I’ve been making the potato gratin I was taught in school for a cheesy, buttery, potato-y treat. I brought my drinking chocolate out from the back of the cupboard. I’ve even been experimenting with mulled apple cider, which reminds me of spending time with family after coming home from a cold bonfire night in the UK. Inexpensive, warm, tasty, filling and a little bit of nostalgia – it’s been exactly what I’ve needed!”

mulled-cider-lockdown-treatsWhich products piqued your interest?

Feeling inspired by the best of 2021? We hope we've motivated you to pay a little more attention to what catches your eye when shopping online or in a supermarket.

Take note of what draws you in when scanning the shelves or browsing on your laptop and reflect on what the retailer or brand was trying to communicate. Why did it work for you? 

You can then take these insights into your workplace and create meaningful conversations that have the power to initiate positive change. Are your products sending the right messages to your customers?


Over to you.

Whether you need a 10-minute survey or a week-long innovation sprint, PLAY is here to help. Our seasoned experts can support you with mapping out your innovation moves and bringing new products to life - and who knows, your next creation might be topping the Product of the Year charts next time!

Get in touch here or on or 02 8097 0200 to get started today.


read it, love it, share it.

about the author


As the experts in consumer-led innovation in FMCG, we partner with manufacturers and retailers to lift the productivity and effectiveness of their NPD. It’s all in how we blend innovation advisory with tailored consumer insight using an agile, consumer-first approach. Think of us like the connective tissue within your innovation process. We guide you at every step of the journey, helping you align, focus and develop ideas and products that sell.

ask the author

related posts