Food Trends in Canada: Consumer Insights and Preferences

Explore the latest trends and drivers shaping the Canadian food and beverage market

June 25, 2024 – Through Innova’s extensive 360 research, key insights into the Canadian food and beverage market have been revealed. Using both macro and micro level analysis, here we will discuss the most notable food trends in Canada, ranging from consumer attitudes and drivers to market penetration and top product claims.

Macro Consumer Drivers in Canada

Canadian consumers are navigating a complex landscape of challenges impacting their food and beverage choices. They are prioritizing health and well-being, seeking out “real” ingredients and natural formulations, while also being mindful of budget constraints. The increasing cost of living is a significant factor, driving a focus on value for money and influencing purchasing decisions. Canadians are also increasingly conscious of environmental impact and social responsibility, seeking out products with sustainable practices and ethical sourcing. The rise of technology is transforming shopping habits, with online platforms playing a central role in accessing information and making purchases. Overall, Canadian consumers are seeking a balance between enjoyment and necessity, prioritizing health, convenience, and value in their food and beverage choices.

Beverage Trends

Canadian beverage consumption habits are influenced by a variety of factors, including health concerns, budget constraints, and changing lifestyles. While alcohol penetration in Canada is higher than the global average, consumers are increasingly turning towards non-alcoholic options.

Sugar reduction is a key driver for soft drink choices, with natural attributes also playing a significant role. Coffee and tea consumption is on the rise, driven by changing taste preferences and a focus on naturalness and premium quality.

Bottled water demand is high, with consumers prioritizing natural ingredients and local sourcing. Overall, Canadian consumers are seeking beverages that are natural, healthy, and flavorful, with a preference for traditional and premium options.

Everyday Staples

Innova’s food trend research shows that Canadian consumers are highly influenced by freshness and health when purchasing bread, with a penetration rate of 83%, one of the highest globally. Wholegrain/multigrain claims are particularly important, cited as influential by 37% of consumers, exceeding the global average.

Health and cost are major factors impacting dairy demands, with taste being a key attribute for yogurt. While Canadians are increasing their uptake of yogurt, budget concerns are slowing milk and cheese consumption rates. Naturalness and real ingredients are top concerns in the dairy category, with local sourcing also playing a role.

Meat and fish consumption is highly influenced by health and sourcing claims. Poultry purchasing in Canada exceeds the global average at an 83% penetration rate, while seafood purchasing penetration is slightly below the global average at 60%, compared to 64%. Budget is the top factor for decreasing consumption, while health and protein are key drivers for increasing intake. Local sourcing and naturalness are also important considerations.

Food Trends in Canada

Meal Preparation Trends

Canadian consumers are increasingly looking for convenient meal preparation solutions, with a focus on natural ingredients and health. While there is a mixed outlook on meal preparation attitudes, bouillons, stocks, and seasonings are seeing the biggest positive net change in consumption. Innova’s food trend research indicates that brand activity is a key driver for seasonings and sauces, with awareness and novelty influencing higher uptake. Natural claims are important to consumers, with sugar reduction being a significant factor for spread buyers.

Canadians are ranking natural claims highly when it comes to convenient meal solutions, over-indexing the global average. This is particularly true for dips and sweet spreads. Taste is also a key attribute for convenient meal preparation solutions, with consumers seeking options that deliver on both flavor and convenience.

Snacks and Treats Trends

Canadian consumers are highly engaged with snacks and treats, with a penetration rate exceeding the global average at 75% compared to 58%. Health claims are a significant driver for cereal bars consumption, according to Innova’s food trend research, while naturalness and indulgence are key for every subcategory of snacks and treats. Health is a top driver for reducing consumption of snacks and treats, and budget is a top concern for those decreasing their consumption of specifically biscuits and snacks.

Naturalness and real ingredients remain important influences for consumers in Canada when purchasing snacks, with artificial flavors and colors leading to a decline in consumption. Sugar reduction is a key factor for biscuits, while a premium eating experience is valued in categories like desserts and ice cream.

Interestingly, “because it’s healthy” is a reason cited by two out of five consumers increasing their intake of energy bars, highlighting the growing focus on functional snacks. Fiber and protein are important to Canadians, aligning with global averages.

Plant-Based and Special Diets

Canadian consumers are increasingly embracing plant-based and special diets, driven by a combination of health, ethical, and environmental concerns. While the penetration rate for meat alternatives slightly under-indexes the global average (18% vs. 20%), dairy alternatives show a more varied picture depending on the category.

Taste is a key driver for purchase decisions in these categories, with health, environmental, and ethical concerns also playing a significant role. Natural and protein claims are particularly important to consumers, with “free from” claims also gaining traction within Canada food trends.

The demand for sports nutrition products is also on the rise, with Canadians over-indexing the global average in their consumption of pre- and post-workout products. This trend is driven by a focus on exercise and a desire for functional ingredients that can enhance performance.

Overall, the plant-based and special diets market in Canada is experiencing significant growth, driven by a growing awareness of the benefits of these dietary choices.

What’s Next in Food Trends in Canada?

Canadian consumers are increasingly seeking natural, real ingredients in their food and beverages. They are also motivated by health claims, including sugar and fat reduction, as well as functional benefits.

Brands can focus on simpler, cleaner formulations with real ingredients. Combining established claims with added functionality is key to attracting Canadian consumers.

Innovation is crucial, with consumers seeking exciting twists on traditional favorites and increased variety. Brands should consider broadening their appeal by adding well-loved flavors and textures to their products.

Finally, brand and product activity are influential in Canada food trends, as consumers are increasingly aware of these factors. By focusing on these key areas, brands can capitalize on the growing demand for natural, healthy, and innovative food and beverage products in Canada.


This article is based on our report, “Category Growth Drivers in Canada.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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