OUR MISSION

Connecting you with our food system and its value in our daily lives — from dirt to dinner.

Top Food Trends to Watch in 2024

Diet, Food Ingredients, Health

Top Food Trends to Watch in 2024

The Dirt

In an ever-evolving culinary landscape where consumer preferences and expectations are at the forefront, the food and drink industry faces an exciting year ahead. The year 2024 brings with it a fresh set of ideas that promises to reshape the way we think about the food on our plates and the drinks in our glasses.

Each year, consumer market intelligence platform Mintel reports on the trends in the food and drink industry for the year ahead. These trends are not only indicative of changing tastes but also reflect the growing importance of health, technological innovation, and sustainability in the industry.

Trend #1: Processed Food Transparency

In recent years, consumers have become more health-conscious and informed about the foods they consume. Here are some of the reasons why:

Consumer Awareness

High-quality productions on various streaming platforms, like The Blue Zone and You Are What You Eat, and popular, research-backed books like “Outlive” help to conveniently and effectively educate consumers on health.

Accessible media like these compel consumers to make healthy choices that limit the potential dangers of ultra-processed foods that contain additives, preservatives, and high levels of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.

2024 food trends, Top Food Trends to Watch in 2024Ingredient Scrutiny

Consumers are scrutinizing food labels for ingredients, looking for transparency and labels with fewer items. They want to understand what’s in their food and how it’s made.

For example, if a granola bar touts “three main ingredients: almonds, peanut butter and chia seeds,” they don’t want to then see a list of 20 additives on the back of the label.

Clean Label Movement

The trend aligns with the broader “clean label” movement, where consumers have a concern about processed foods and seek products with less than four artificial or unfamiliar ingredients, mimicking what they might use in their own kitchens.

Brand Considerations

Brands can respond by providing clear and transparent information about their products’ ingredients and processing methods, emphasizing aspects that enhance nutrition, reduce contaminants, or improve sustainability. They may also reformulate products to meet evolving consumer preferences. Consider this question:

How can food manufacturers and brands effectively communicate the level of processing in their products to consumers who are increasingly concerned about this aspect?

Trend #2: Climate Concerns, but Comfort Endures

Sustainability Expectations

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment and expect food and drink companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. This includes reducing carbon footprints, using eco-friendly packaging, and supporting ethical sourcing practices.

2024 food trends, Top Food Trends to Watch in 2024But Comfort Remains Priority

Despite these sustainability concerns, consumers still prioritize comfort when it comes to food and drink. In times of crisis, people turn to familiar and comforting foods for solace.

Brand Considerations

Brands must strike a balance by creating products that are eco-friendly, satisfying, affordable, and convenient. This can include a variety of plant-based foods, locally sourced foods, whole grains and legumes that require less intensive growing inputs, or foods with sustainable packaging.

Also, brands that can provide clear, verified sustainability claims on their products are likely to gain favor with consumers who are becoming more discerning about greenwashing and false eco-friendly claims. Consider this question:

How much more are consumers willing to pay for sustainable, lesser-processed food products? Or does price sensitivity continue to dominate purchasing decisions?

Trend #3: Age, Reframed

Changing Attitudes

The trend reflects changing societal attitudes toward aging. In the past, aging was often stigmatized, and certain life stages, such as menopause, were considered taboo topics.

Healthy Aging

The concept of extending the period of life spent in good health, is becoming a priority. Consumers, particularly Generation X, are embracing a new approach to healthy aging. They seek ways to extend their healthy years, focusing on wellness and quality of life.

2024 food trends, Top Food Trends to Watch in 2024

Brand Considerations

Brands can cater to this demographic by offering products and services that support healthy aging.

They also have an opportunity to educate and support consumers as they navigate different life stages, providing information and products on nutrition, exercise, mental health, and overall well-being.

Consider this question:

What innovative approaches can brands take to promote and support healthy aging, especially among Generation X, and what role does nutrition play in this endeavor?

Trend #4: Optimized Diets

Technology Integration

Technology is playing an increasingly integral role in the food and drink industry. Artificial intelligence, in particular, is transforming the way consumers plan meals, shop for groceries, and prepare food.

2024 food trends, Top Food Trends to Watch in 2024AI Meal Planning

AI-driven meal planning apps can generate recipes based on dietary preferences, available ingredients, and nutritional goals. This simplifies the meal planning process for consumers.

Efficiency and Convenience

Emerging tech solutions, such as automated shopping lists and personalized alerts, are making meal preparation more efficient. Consumers are adopting these technologies to streamline their daily routines. An example here?

Retailer Engagement

Retailers are engaging consumers with real-time shopping assistance through AI-driven push notifications, helping shoppers find products and ingredients while in stores or online.

Brand Considerations

They are utilizing AI to analyze consumer feedback and data to inspire the development of new products. AI can identify trends and preferences, leading to the creation of innovative and convenient food and drink items. Consider these questions:

In the era of optimized eating, what emerging technologies and applications are poised to revolutionize meal planning, shopping, and cooking, and how can consumers leverage these tools effectively?

And what role will data-driven insights and analytics play in helping businesses stay ahead of these trends, adapt to changing consumer preferences, and make informed decisions?

Charting a Flavorful Path Forward

As we embark on this dynamic journey into the year ahead, let us savor the excitement of culinary innovation and the potential for a more conscious, convenient, and delicious dining experience.

These trends are not mere predictions; they are guideposts for a future where our plates are filled with flavors that are not only tantalizing but also aligned with our evolving values and aspirations.

Here are some of the larger, interrelated questions that keeps us at Dirt to Dinner up at night that we are eager to explore further as 2024 unfurls:

  • Are there any regulatory changes or policies on the horizon that might impact the food and drink industry in North America in 2024, especially in relation to sustainability and labeling?
  • Are there specific sectors within food and drink that are expected to experience more pronounced shifts due to these trends, and how can businesses in those sectors prepare for these changes?
  • Which brands are successfully implementing these trends into their products, and what lessons can we learn learn from them?

These questions represent critical aspects of the evolving food and drink landscape that we plan on keeping a close eye on here at Dirt to Dinner. Addressing them will be essential for industry players, policymakers, and consumers as they navigate the culinary journey in 2024 and beyond. Brands that can navigate these trends effectively are likely to connect with consumers and stay competitive in the evolving North American market.

What questions are we missing here? Send your comments and queries to: connect@dirt-to-dinner.com

The Bottom Line

Brands and consumers alike are presented with opportunities to embrace change, foster sustainability, prioritize health, and leverage technology. These trends reflect the dynamic nature of our relationship with food and beverages—a relationship that continues to evolve in response to our ever-changing world. Cheers to a delectable and transformative year ahead!

D2D-illustration Bottom Line