Latest Food Trends in Spain

Explore how food and beverage categories in Spain are evolving

June 21, 2024 – Spain’s food and beverage landscape is constantly evolving, driven by a complex interplay of health consciousness, local sourcing preferences, and a growing demand for convenience. Innova’s 360 research across 39 different food and beverage categories allows for valuable insights into this dynamic market. From the rise of plant-based foods and the growing importance of “better-for-you” claims to the enduring appeal of traditional flavors and the increasing demand for locally sourced products, key trends will be highlighted within five overarching categories: beverages, everyday staples, meal preparation, snacks and treats, and plant-based and special diets.

Beverage Trends

Spanish consumers are increasingly focused on healthier beverage choices, with a notable shift towards “better-for-you” options. This is reflected in the growing demand for low-fat, low-sugar, and caffeine-free beverages. While taste remains a crucial factor, health concerns are driving a slight decline in consumption of core drinks like beer, hard alcohol, and carbonated beverages. However, these beverages are still extremely popular within the Spanish market.

The rise of alcoholic alternatives and flavored beverages, particularly among younger generations, is a significant food trend. Spanish consumers are also embracing beverage types like bottled water, juices, and iced tea, although they lag behind the global average with purchasing next-generation options like energy drinks and iced coffee.

Local sourcing is a key driver for bottled water purchases, with consumers favoring products free of artificial flavors and colors. The demand for caffeine-free formulations is particularly strong in the soft drinks category, with iced tea and coffee ranking high in terms of consumer interest.

Overall, the Spanish beverage market is characterized by a growing emphasis on health, convenience, and local sourcing. Consumers are seeking out products that offer a balance of taste, health benefits, and sustainability.

Everyday Staple Food Trends

In Spain, everyday staples like bread, breakfast cereals, cheese, milk, yogurt, fish, seafood, and meat are consumed at above-average rates compared to the global average. While these categories are mature, consumers are adjusting their intake, with a notable increase in those seeking healthier options.

Food trend research indicates that freshness and taste are key attributes for Spanish consumers, particularly for bread and fish. Local sourcing is also highly valued, with Spanish consumers consistently over-indexing on interest in claims like locally produced across these categories. 26% of Spanish consumers consider locally sourced as a highly influential claim on everyday staple foods, compared to the global average of 19%. This preference for local products is further emphasized by the high ranking of traditionally made/crafted claims.

Health considerations are also significant, particularly for dairy products and cereals. Consumers are seeking low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber options. The importance of fiber is evident in the high purchase rates of breakfast cereals, which some Spanish consumers consider as a healthier start to the day.

While dinner is the primary eating occasion for these staples globally, lunch holds a significant position in Spain. This highlights the importance of convenient and healthy staple foods for busy lifestyles.

Latest Food Trends

Meal Preparation Trends

Spanish consumers are increasingly turning to meal preparation foods, with penetration rates close to the global average. Food trend research indicates that, while they slightly under-index in sauce consumption and slightly over-index in spread consumption, the key driver for growth in these categories is the greater variety available on shelves. Convenience is also a major factor, with time pressures and the demand for quick meals driving purchase decisions. Cost is additionally important, but concerns about unhealthy ingredients are a significant factor for consumers who are cutting back on meal preparation foods.

The most important eating occasion for meal preparation foods is lunch, which is eaten at home more often than dinner in Spain.

One of the most influential claims in the meal preparation category is palm oil free, with 29% of Spanish consumers citing it as a key factor in their purchasing decisions. This is significantly higher than the global average of 11%. This highlights the growing awareness of the environmental impact of palm oil production in Europe, and the desire for alternative ingredients in foods.

Snacks and Treats Food Trends

Spanish consumers over-index the global average for purchases of chocolate, desserts and ice cream, sweet biscuits, and salty snacks, but are less likely to buy cereal bars and cakes. However, there has been a slight decline in consumption of baked confectionery. This shift is driven by a growing focus on health, with consumers seeking out options they deem healthier like cereal and energy bars.

The demand for palm oil free snacks is particularly strong in Spain, with 33% of consumers citing it as a key influence in their purchasing decisions, compared to just 12% globally.

Interestingly, while health is a major driver in the cereal and energy bar market, Spanish consumers are more concerned about fat reduction than sugar reduction, unlike their global counterparts. This suggests a specific focus on fat content when it comes to these snack foods.

Plant-Based and Special Diet Trends

Spanish consumers are showing a growing interest in plant-based foods and special diets, but overall penetration of these products in the country remains below the global average. 21% of Spanish consumers bought a sports nutrition product in the past year (compared to 28% globally), and 16% purchased meat substitutes (compared to 20% globally). However, every category of special diet and plant-based products saw increases in consumer purchases, especially meat substitutes.

Food trend research shows that health is the primary driver for adopting plant-based diets, with environmental considerations playing a secondary role. However, taste and flavor are equally important for Spanish consumers, particularly when it comes to meat substitutes. This highlights the need for plant-based foods that deliver on both taste and health benefits.

Additionally, Spanish consumers over-index on environmental concerns when it comes to plant-based foods, particularly dairy alternatives. This suggests a growing awareness of the environmental impact of food choices, and an opportunity for brands to highlight the sustainability of their plant-based offerings.

What’s Next in Spain Food Trends?

Health is a major driver in Spanish food trends, with consumers increasingly focused on “better-for-you” options, seeking reductions in fat and sugar, and embracing positive nutrition messages. This presents an opportunity for brands to develop functional and healthy formulations that go beyond simple “low” claims.

However, taste and quality remain paramount. While health is important, Spanish consumers are not willing to compromise on taste and quality. Brands need to ensure that their products deliver on flavor and offer real variety in flavors and formats.

Local and traditional messaging in foods is also key. Spanish consumers value local sourcing and traditional production methods. Brands can leverage this by highlighting these aspects in their messaging and packaging.

Finally, the environmental impact of palm oil is a concern in Europe, and Spanish consumers are actively seeking alternatives. Brands can consider removing palm oil from their recipes and using alternative oils and emulsifiers.


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