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Trend Forecast: 15 Food and Beverage Trends to Look Out for in 2024

21 December 2023

This decade has been full of substantial and exciting shifts in the food industry. Since 2020, consumers have been exploring global flavours, focusing on healthier, more sustainable options. Food manufacturers have responded by incorporating fresh flavours into their products, introducing alternative free-from food and beverages, and taking a closer look at sustainability practices.

In the coming year, sustainability will again be at the heart of consumer trends. North Americans are prioritizing personal and planetary health, all the while refusing to compromise on flavour.

1. Eco-Consciousness and Sustainability

The food industry is shaped by the growing demand for more sustainable choices. Many of the 2024 food and beverage trends described in this list reflect consumers' increasing eco-consciousness.

More than ever, consumers (especially younger generations) are aware that their food choices profoundly impact the environment. According to TetraPak's 2023 Nutrition Index, 54% of consumers consider sustainability in food purchases. 

Consequently, consumers expect food manufacturers to do more to reduce their carbon footprint and produce food sustainably. Adopting more sustainable farming methods, such as vertical farming, is one way to appeal to eco-conscious consumers.

2. Foods that Focus on Wellness

In 2020, 54% of consumers said that the healthiness of their food was more important than it had been in 2010 (according to the 2020 Food & Health Survey). This mentality has only strengthened in the last few years. People expect their food to be nutritious and full of high-quality ingredients with few additives or fillers. They are reading the ingredient list and looking for functional benefits like adaptogens.

3. Vegan Options for Everyone

Interest in vegan products is growing. However, vegans are not leading this growth. Flexitarians, motivated by concerns for personal and planetary health, are swapping animal-based products for vegan alternatives en masse. In 2021, 54% of Americans aged 24-39 identified as flexitarians. They are fueling the growth of retail sales of plant-based foods, which grew 11.4% to 5 billion USD in the USA in 2019.

4. New Plant-Based Milk Options

The world of plant-based milk alternatives is continuing to expand. Although oat milk’s popularity is surging (oat milk sales make up 19% of all plant-based milk sales in the USA), there is ample room for creativity in this sector. Watch for dairy-free milk from potato, avocado, pea, or hemp.

5. Swimming with Faux Fish 

The Institute of Food Technologists named faux fish one of their top trends in 2023. This segment of the plant-based industry has been slower to grow, which means there is a lot of opportunity moving forward. 

As at least 70% of global fish stocks are currently overexploited or depleted, there is an urgency to develop sustainable seafood alternatives that capture the taste and texture of the real thing.

6. Cell-Based Meat and Seafood

In 2024, more cell-based meat and seafood options will appear across the market (as predicted by the Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel). These lab-grown products address environmental and animal welfare concerns without compromising taste or texture.

7. Farewell Wheat, Hello Alternative Pastas

Alternative pastas are not just for the gluten-free. Pasta made from lentils, beans, carrots, quinoa, seaweed, and buckwheat are becoming popular among consumers following other free-from diets, such as a low-carb or keto diet. Some alternative kinds of pasta are also an excellent protein source for plant-based consumers. 

Buckwheat (naturally gluten-free) appeared on Whole Foods Market’s Food Trends Forecast for 2024.

8. Dates Are the New Sugar Substitute

Dates were trending in 2023, according to the Whole Food Market’s Food Trend Forecast from that year. Going forward, expect dates to appear in various ways throughout grocery stores, particularly in date sugar.

Dates have an incredibly high naturally derived sugar content, which food manufacturers can use to add sweetness to products without relying on standard white sugar. It appeals to health-focused consumers wanting to avoid white sugar and artificial sweeteners.

9. Mushroom Madness Continues

Mushrooms are becoming an undeniable consumer favourite. VegNews reported that mushroom sales increased by 20% to 40% between 2019 and 2020. Although consumers are cooking with mushrooms more than ever before, they’re also choosing food products that feature mushrooms. Mushroom jerky is a clear example.

10. Tahini Enters the Mainstream

The tahini market is expected to grow significantly during 2024 as awareness of the product grows throughout North America. Tahini will appear in sauces, dips, spreads, shakes, sweets, and in its traditional paste form. It is a dynamic ingredient with applications far beyond hummus (of which it is a core component). 

11. Bold Colours with Ube

Ube is a purple yam originating from the Philippines. Thanks to its bold hue, it is becoming a popular ingredient to transform food products and beverages. As consumers grow wary of artificial food dyes, ube is a way to naturally colour products a beautiful violet. It also has a sweet, slightly nutty, vanilla-like flavour.

12. Yuzu is North America’s New Favourite Citrus

Yuzu has been trending since 2020. In 2021 alone, 236 yuzu-focused products were launched globally. This Japanese fruit tastes like a cross between an orange, grapefruit, and lemon. It’s used in salad dressings, sparkling beverages, snacks, and baking ingredients.

13. Peach is Back

However, yuzu isn’t the only fruit capturing consumers' taste buds. Peach is also having a moment. In the coming year, SFA predicts that peach will appear as a popular flavour and ingredient across food and beverage products. Expect to see peaches in new and unexpected forms, such as in condiments and with chilli peppers.

14. Complex and Unconventional Heat

Consumers are on a global heat exploration. The Whole Food Market Forecast and Specialty Food Association Trendspotter Panel included chilli peppers in their 2024 predictions. This trend will continue to evolve in the new year, with consumers eager to experiment with new chilli varieties. Scorpion, Hungarian Goathorn, and Calabrian peppers will capture the market.

15. Specialty Salts

Specialty salts (gourmet or artisanal salts) are attracting consumers' attention. These salts often contain a high mineral content and are thus perceived as healthier than regular table salt. They’re also a way to infuse recipes with fresh and exciting flavours.

Hela Spice, We’re North America’s Food Industry Experts!

Attracting new customers (and satisfying existing ones) depends on adapting to a changing food industry—one where consumers are demanding sustainable, healthy options big on flavour. Hela Spice can help. We are North America’s food industry experts. We combine sustainable ingredient application and food processing capabilities with in-depth knowledge of consumers.

To learn more about incorporating these trends into your food and beverage products with Hela Spice, visit our website or contact us here.

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