Trends for 2024 and Beyond

Trends for 2024 and Beyond

30 January 2024

Predictions for 2024 food and drink trends have already started to come to fruition across all sectors.

Health and wellness products look set to remain a number one priority on consumer wish lists.  According to Bidfood, “around 48% of consumers are seeking out foods that directly impact their physical wellbeing, and 71% say they feel the aroma of food and drink can help boost their mood.”  2024 will see brands placing a specific focus on ingredients to benefit women’s health, especially those from an older demographic.

The feel-good growth of coffee and sodas will also thrive in the coming year, say Whole Foods Market: “Combining a boost with benefits has never been easier thanks to new coffee and energy drinks with added mushrooms, probiotics and more.”  UK Manufacturer, Lionel Hitchen believes that the light, fruity tones of Peach Fuzz will even bring peace and serenity to food and beverage innovations. Other KLBD clients suggesting a flavour of the year are T. Hasegawa with ube and McCormick with tamarind.

Soft drink options aimed at younger consumers will include such unconventional profiles as Coca-Cola’s ‘Sugar Byte’, which invites customers to explore how pixels might taste. Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at NIQ told Food Manufacture, ‘These ‘unreal’ conceptual flavours not only resonate with younger shoppers but also drive incremental growth by expanding the flavours repertoire of both existing and new consumers.’

Plant-based food will continue to be in demand, but consumers will seek assurance on the authenticity of products and their health benefits. Whole foods like mushrooms, walnuts and tempeh will remain popular for their nutritional benefits, with mushrooms once again leading the pack for versatility.  As observed by Kanthe Shelke: “People will discover mushrooms in every food and beverage category and product developers will find ways to weave in ancient wisdom into new craveable food formats.”

Authenticity of ingredients and origins features strongly in Bidfood’s trends report for 2024. Consumers want to explore cuisines in their most original format and international cuisines from the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Mexico are creating most curiosity. An insight into global tastes for 2024 is provided by Cecilia Pereyra of IFF Nourish, stating: ‘When it comes to global flavour trends, we can always know it is about spice. ‘Spicy, smoky, tangy flavours from regions all over the world are trending. Korean and African flavours are most popular, with Italian, Japanese and Greek flavours trailing close behind.’ In the UK, a fascination for British Fusion cooking is proving to be an exciting concept for more adventurous diners.

Another recurring theme for 2024 is sustainability, with awareness of environmental factors being a major driver of market patterns. Shelf Now reports increased demand for sustainable food brands, with Kate Kehoe of FMCG Gurus noting, ‘Brands must showcase resourcefulness across the supply chain to align with consumer values’.  Companies must comply with The Food Safety Modernization Act to provide full transparency of how their products are made, as well as full traceability along the supply chain.

As the impact of extreme weather continues to be a hot topic, US based Natural Grocers’ Education team will present innovative solutions on utilising foods and nutrients to counter additional stress put on our bodies. Going forward, it’s claimed that eating watery vegetables and fruits like cucumbers, watermelon and mangoes will keep us hydrated and that supplemental nutrients will play their part too.

Leading chefs’ predictions for 2024 confirm the trend of farm to table produce being integrated into exciting recipes from plants, herbs and fruits. Expect to see pine needles paired with beeswax ice cream, with needles adding a citrusy, woody flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes. Alchemilla’s tasting menu in Nottingham promises fermented mushroom and spent coffee as part of their delectable desserts offering.

In America the ‘treat culture’ will feature strongly throughout 2024. Whether it is aesthetic plant-based ingredients, or luxury sweets, little treats will be tempting consumers in the year ahead. Aishwarya Iyer, Founder and CEO of Brightland has noticed a trend for visual and tactile aspects of product presentation, while Mandy Sevan of Stylus comments, ‘customers with cash to splash will continue to invest in luxury food experiences involving complex flavours, hard-to-source ingredients, next-level freshness and culinary craftsmanship.’ Luxury brands are likely to develop complementary food and drink offerings that ‘encapsulate their aspirational attributes.’  Conversely, the less affluent may have to adjust their shopping habits, but will still seek out small indulgences for reward and escapism.

In the drinks sector tequila’s popularity shows no sign of abating and is strongly predicted to retain pride of place at all the leading supermarkets. The Cocktail Society are promising an exotic array of flavours to tempt our taste buds, with Asian Cocktails, Tea Cocktails, Margaritas and Vegan First innovations coming into the mainstream. The spritz category will continue to expand with new brands and flavour combinations.

As consumers become increasingly aware of their drink intake, a lower alcohol alternative provides the ideal compromise. The emergence of alcohol-free bars across the UK is attracting a new generation of drinkers, with the owner of Manchester’s Love From saying, ‘More and more people are drinking less but they still want somewhere to go with their friends.’ London venues such as The Permit Room, Kings Cross, are offering ‘teetotal tipples’, ‘sober negronis’ and ‘rumless mojitos’ to entice clientele. Meanwhile, the Cross-Country train network will be the first to provide Mavrik’s alcohol-free Cuban Mojito.

Financial considerations continue to affect consumers worldwide. Mintel’s Global Food and Drinks Trends report stresses the importance of maximising value as consumers grapple with cost of living and turn to different products as a result.  Executive Director of Waitrose, James Bailey, has noted how price-conscious customers search for the best value and look to promotions to cushion their bills. Separately, Kate Kehoe comments, ‘Brands should respond by introducing packaging advancements to prolong the shelf life of products.

It comes as no surprise that the most dramatic changes on the horizon will be AI-powered solutions across all sectors and that a new era of convenience will emerge as technology streamlines meal planning, shopping and cooking. Referring to AI’s potential to revolutionise supply chain management, Athena Lee from Shelf-Now comments, “By analysing sales data and other factors, AI can accurately predict demand patterns, allowing businesses to optimise inventory levels, reduce costs, and minimise food waste.” As 2024 sees food safety regulations continue to evolve, technology tools will help brands to meet compliance issues, including food safety standards, labelling, as well as environmental and labour solutions.

Likewise advances in technology and health monitoring apps will identify personalised recommendations based on consumers’ purchase history. Brands are aware that using ‘tech tools’ will tie-in with consumer preferences, such as highlighting plant-based options that vegan and vegetarian consumers might enjoy. Brands that adopt this approach will strengthen customer satisfaction and reap the benefits of long-term loyalty.

It is also widely predicted that AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants will enhance the broad customer service experience by responding to routine comments and even making restaurant reservations. This will free up human employees to focus on customer interaction and value-added tasks.

Exciting technological trends look set to revolutionise the food and drink industry globally, with 2024 just the start of innovations across all sectors.

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