Seven food and beverage trends for 2024

Wednesday, 24 January, 2024

Seven food and beverage trends for 2024

As the food landscape evolves to reflect technological advancements and cultural and economic shifts, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) has presented its annual food trends forecast. According to the research, 2024 will see more functional beverages, a boom in botanicals, rising demand for foods that support emotional wellbeing, a focus on food labels and a growing acceptance of artificial intelligence (AI).

Mood on the menu

The idea that food influences physical, emotional and mental wellbeing is gaining more and more traction.

According to the IFIC 2023 Food & Health Survey, 74% of Americans believe the food and beverages they consume have a significant or moderate impact on their overall mental and emotional wellbeing, while 61% believe that overall mental and emotional wellbeing has a significant or moderate impact on food and beverage choices.

In 2024, IFIC forecasts a greater emphasis on how nutrition can support mental and emotional health, including supplements focused on women’s health, as well as foods and beverages to support mood, and assist with stress reduction and sleep.

The demand for wellness-related products will also lean on the use of botanicals incorporated into teas, seltzers and certain foods.

Function-focused hydration

Functional beverages will continue to take centre stage in 2024, redefining hydration with clean caffeine, drinks to support better sleep and added pre- and probiotics for gut health.

According to IFIC’s Consumer Insights on Gut Health and Probiotics Survey, of those who try to consume probiotics, one in four Americans say they commonly seek them out in wellness drinks. Similarly, among those who try to consume prebiotics, 23% seek them out in wellness drinks.

Water stewardship will also matter more in 2024, with consumers on the lookout for foods and drinks that require less water to grow or produce.

Plant-based innovations and protein snacking

While plant-based proteins aren’t new, the amalgamation of protein-fortified products and protein-focused snacks is a newer trend. Plant-based food alternatives will be taken to new heights with plant-based seafood.

Products fortified with protein, such as rice, pasta, baking mixes, nut protein powders and snack foods will trend in the market. The IFIC 2023 Food & Health Survey ranked high-protein as the number one eating pattern at 18%, followed by mindful eating at 17%, calorie-counting at 12%, clean eating at 12% and intermittent fasting at 12%.

Rise of third-culture cuisine

Third-culture cuisine, celebrating the plurality of different cuisines and identities, will be on the rise. From restaurants to cookbooks, this trend lends itself to the renaissance of a commonly maligned ingredient: monosodium glutamate (MSG).

MSG’s historical baggage is being unpacked and re-examined, as myths surrounding it are being debunked by scientists.

“MSG has been unfairly demonised for far too long. We’re predicting consumers will continue to re-evaluate its place in the kitchen, especially those looking to reduce sodium while maintaining flavour,” said Tony Flood, IFIC’s Senior Director of Food Ingredient Communications.

More than just a label

In 2024, there will be a heightened emphasis on transparent food labelling. Labels such as “clean”, “cold-pressed” and “fermented”, which are associated with healthiness, will be at the forefront.

As far as consumers are concerned, the most common attributes they believe define a healthy food are “fresh” (37%), “low in sugar” (32%) and “good source of protein” (29%), according to the IFIC 2023 Food & Health Survey.

AI on the plate

In an increasingly online world, consumers are looking to the digital universe for information on health, nutrition, and food safety. Consumers will increasingly be using ChatGPT or other AI functions to improve eating habits, answer questions about food safety and nutrition, help craft meal plans and more.

IFIC predicts much of AI’s influence will also reside behind the scenes with the potential for more resilient supply chains, food waste reduction, precision farming techniques and innovative product formulation.

Swipe, like, eat

Social media-induced snacking and cooking trends are expected to continue into 2024.

IFIC research has found that 51% of Americans have tried a new recipe because of social media, 42% have tried a new brand or product, 29% have tried a new restaurant and 28% have re-evaluated their relationship with food. Six in 10 say they have made healthier choices as a result of information they see on social media.

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