Food and beverage trends are the result of greater global forces. One major influence on food and beverage is megatrend drivers, the key political, economic, sociological, environmental, and technological forces driving change globally. Examples of megatrend drivers include health of the planet, health of the population, cost-of-living, and impact of technology. Consumer trends also influence the food and beverage market. Consumer macrotrends such as consumer lifestyles, attitudes, consumption habits, and behavior are exemplified in healthcare to self-care, wholesome enjoyment, home-centric living, and the value of connection with friends, family, and community. All of these forces result in direction toward future innovation opportunities for food and beverage as highlighted in Innova Market Insights’ annual Top 10 Trends. Innova takes into consideration the various trend drivers, along with consumer trends research and in-depth tracking of food and beverage launches – launch categories, product features, ingredients, and on-package claims – to look into the future and predict the direction of the global food and beverage market in the coming year.
For 2024, although food price inflation continues and consumers are looking for ways to cut back on spending, trends predictions suggest that key ingredients, nature-friendly claims, and health benefits will support increased spending in 2024.
Trend #1 – Taking the Spotlight
This first food and nutrition trend calls attention to hero ingredients and the way that consumers respond to them. One-third of consumers surveyed globally by Innova say that they always look at ingredients of interest on the product package, responding positively to certain key ingredients being flagged up. These ingredients fall into a variety of descriptions. Some are favorite or trending flavors. Others provide texture. Some ingredients attract consumers because they are well-established and well-loved, while others might be new ingredients that are promoted by social media influencers. Years of information on-line and in the media promotes healthy ingredients such as superfoods, superfruits, mushrooms, macronutrients, probiotics, gut-friendly bacteria, postbiotics and dozens of others. Their benefits are highlighted through storytelling, label call-outs, and graphics as a way to attract consumers and help them make the choices that are important to them.
Trend #2 – Nurturing Nature
In recent years, Innova trends research shows that consumer concern about the planet has overtaken concern about the population as the number one issue. The trend Nurturing Nature highlights the need for business commitments and actions to go beyond trends such as sustainability into actions that protect nature on a broader scale. Consumers are worried about the climate and have greater awareness about the climate crisis. They also are interested in regenerative agriculture, farming conditions for livestock, and brands that highlight their bond with nature and the environment. When Innova asked consumers what they would like to see most from brands and companies toward helping environmental and social causes, consumers named nature protection first, followed by sustainable packaging, and improving waste management. Growth data from product launches over a recent three-year period show that brands and companies are expanding their efforts into areas beyond sustainability such as forest protection and reduced water usage. They also increasingly are using on-pack labeling to communicate their environmental initiatives to consumers.
Trend #3 – Prioritizing Prevention
Consumer concerns are shifting from treatment of existing health problems to prevention of future ones. They are taking positive action to prevent health concerns before they arise and are looking for products that meet their needs for holistic health and personal well-being. According to consumer trends research conducted by Innova, consumers say they want to take personal responsibility for their health and be proactive about maintaining good health. When asked about their major physical health concerns, weight management landed at the top of the list. Heart health and bone health also are important to consumers. Personalized nutrition is related to prevention, as consumers seek tailored solutions for holistic health and specific benefits such as a healthier gut microbiome. Consumers of all ages are interested in healthy aging as part of this new era for holistic wellbeing. They recognize that weight management and eating a balanced diet can help with healthy aging. Watch for companies and brands to expand their offerings and communications around prevention and holistic health for consumers of all ages.
Trend #4 – Plant-based: The Rise of Applied Offerings
Plant-based as a product claim emerged several years ago and each year since has marked a refinement in plant-based trends. In 2024, plant-based is expected to adapt familiar dishes and food and beverage formats to consumers who are ready to embrace more plant-based products. Half of consumers globally who were interviewed by Innova say that familiar and convenient culinary formats are important for them when buying plant-based products. What this means is that they want dishes that they can recognize. Product launch trends show that companies and brands are meeting these needs with well-known dishes, including ready meals and finger foods, in alternative vegan or vegetarian versions that are convenient and time-saving. In other actions, they are moving from ‘plant-based’ to ‘plant-unique’ with new products that highlight the inherent properties of their plant ingredients instead of trying to imitate or replace meat, milk, and other animal-based foods. Innovation can be seen in the global gourmet food and beverage marketplace with offerings such as plant-based canned meals, tinned foods, and regionalized plant-based seafood delicacies.
Trend #5 – Local Goes Global
This trend showcases the dual loyalties of consumers to their own local foods and cuisine and to global foods that showcase local ingredients. Two-thirds of consumers surveyed globally by Innova say that they are open to trying new global cuisines. These can include authentic, adventurous foreign dishes, as well as globally-influenced dishes made with local ingredients. Companies and brands can build consumer excitement about trying international dishes and taking pride in local ingredients.
Trend #6 – Home Kitchen Heroes
The COVID pandemic in combination with inflation changed the consumer relationship with home. Consumer trends suggest that consumers are staying home rather than going out. Home is the new, exciting venue for social occasions and gatherings that fit budget concerns, address health considerations around transmissible illnesses, and meet social needs. Consumers are becoming “Home Kitchen Heroes” as they take on higher quality foods, ingredients, and cooking in their own kitchen. They can experiment with flavor, explore global cuisines, use local ingredients, and manage their food budget by cooking from scratch.
Trend #7 – Indulging in Health
Health and indulgence once were on opposite sides of the spectrum. Not any more. Health brands are moving into indulgence – think gourmet flavors and formats like chocolates and smoothies – while indulgent treats are adding health features. Today’s consumers care about health. In fact, more than half of consumers globally say they are willing to compromise on indulgence for healthier food. But they do not expect to pay a higher price for health. Innova data on product launches and labeling over a recent five-year period show an increase in products that combine indulgence with active health claims. These launches include indulgent foods and beverages that reduce or limit non-healthy ingredients like sugar, use natural or less artificial ingredients, or add nutrients to an indulgent product like vitamins in a chocolate candy. According to trends research, consumers are equally willing to accept products that limit or reduce non-healthy ingredients and products that have natural or less-artificial ingredients.
Trend #8 – Oceans of Possibilities
Food and beverage companies, as well as consumers, are discovering the power of the ocean as a farm of the future. The ocean is a source of an abundance of nutrient-rich fish and plant foods. However, overfishing, pollution, and other environmental issues threaten the health of the oceans. The trend Oceans of Possibilities highlights the opportunities for both established and new environmentally positive ingredient sources while considering marine protection and plant-based opportunities. These can overlap with the second 2024 trend, Nurturing Nature. Indeed, seafood companies can be the guardians of the ocean. One notable growth area is microalgae as a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Globally, food and drink launches containing microalgae experienced average annual growth of over 40% during a recent three-year period. Spirulina also is growing in use as an environmentally positive ingredient.
Trend #9 – H2.O: Quenching the Future
Water is not just water anymore. This trend showcases the functional health benefits and nutrients associated with today’s water products. Even hydration is growing as a claim, with 10% growth in soft drink and sports nutrition launches with a hydration-related claim over the last three years. Value-added ingredients and features focus on benefits for the skin, immunity, gut health, and other aspects of health in beverages that also reduce or eliminate added ingredients such as colors and sweeteners.
Trend #10 – Minimizing the Noise
Consumers are experiencing information overload. They are looking to “minimizing the noise” by seeking out simple, open, and honest communications that can be trusted. For example, nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed globally say they would like to see straightforward communication about companies’ efforts in sustainability on pack. They also are wary about greenwashing and have trouble identifying when companies are greenwashing their claims.
It’s always exciting to watch the new year unfold in food and beverage launches that match the year’s trends predictions!
This article is based on our report, “Top 10 Trends 2024 – Extended Analysis.”
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