Whether we like it or not, trends are a huge part of modern food culture. They influence what ingredients feature on grocery store shelves and what dishes feature on restaurant menus. In some extreme circumstances, trends can even upend an entire industry, as hard seltzer did in 2020. We think there'll be a few to do the same in 2024.
The internet is the medium through which most food trends gain momentum. Influencers on social media hold particular sway; a cursory glance through TikTok will see influencers pushing numerous foods including soup, flavored water, and one of 2023's biggest trends, tinned fish. Although they are powerful, influencers do not produce trends alone. Trends also arise in response to wider society including the current economic climate, socio-cultural changes, and trends found elsewhere in popular culture.
While we know what effect food trends have and where they come from, learning to spot trends before they arrive is another challenge altogether. Several companies including Whole Foods and Speciality Food Association produce annual reports predicting upcoming trends, while many people make a career out of being trend spotters. After studying several reports and predictions made by these companies and individuals, we have settled on a list of food trends that we believe everyone will be trying in 2024.
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Buckwheat Will Be The 'It' Grain
Wellness continues to hold immense influence over the food industry, shaping the food we eat in numerous ways. Two of the largest influences wellness has had on food is the increased demand for both gluten-free products and prebiotic products. The former comes from a desire to limit inflammation some people have linked with gluten-rich diets while the latter builds on society's growing interest in how nurturing a healthy gut microbiome can improve a person's overall health.
As a naturally gluten-free, prebiotic food, buckwheat is extremely suited to these current consumer demands and it is expected to become one of 2024's biggest food trends. The chances of this happening are greatly improved by the similarities buckwheat has with widely consumed grains. Although it is actually a seed, it can be used in much the same way as wheat with buckwheat flour being used to make anything from waffles to bread. What's more, whole buckwheat groats are very similar to quinoa in uses, appearance, and flavor. This means that buckwheat, in both its forms, can be easily adopted into a person's daily cooking and eating practices. Finally, buckwheat is packed with antioxidants and fiber. Two further reasons why 2024's health-conscious consumers will gladly add it to their diet.
Botanicals Will Become Common Ingredients
The demand for wellness-related products in 2024 will also result in a rise in the use of botanicals, a group of ingredients that include herbs, roots, and flowers. Rarely consumed on their own, botanicals are increasingly being added to products including beverages and granola to boost their healthiness and add complex flavors.
In terms of beverages, botanicals have traditionally been enjoyed as tea. However, innovative companies are adding botanicals to the popular beverages of today as Leslie Gallo, president of Artemis International explained to Beverage Industry: "Teas such as elderberry, echinacea and lavender have always been a popular delivery of herbs, botanicals, and adaptogens. But we have seen significant growth in RTD shots, juices, probiotic beverages, and more recently, sparkling beverages using botanicals to deliver health benefits."
The beverages from companies like Sparkling Botanicals meet the demand for both soft drinks and those looking to improve their mocktail experience with an exciting mixer. Mocktails are expected to continue their impressive growth into 2024, further strengthening the position of botanically infused beverages.
As the term botanicals encompasses a huge array of differing herbs, roots, and flowers, the culinary applications for them are nearly endless. This versatility will likely see botanicals feature in a range of food as well as drinks during 2024 including yogurt and pizza crusts. Such variation will only make the upcoming trend more durable.
Cacao Pulp Will Be Widely Used
For a long time, cacao pulp -- the white mucilage that surrounds cacao beans -- was seen as a waste product from the process of chocolate making. In fact, around 75% of all cacao pulp is still discarded today. Global society's growing insistence that food waste be reduced has resulted in several products being created that utilize the discarded cacao pulp. Many people are predicting that 2024 will be the year these products break into the mainstream.
Nestlé first began using cocoa pulp instead of refined sugar in its chocolate bars in 2019. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The flavorful cacao pulp is increasingly being used to make cacao pulp juice, a beverage that has a delightfully fruity taste. What makes cacao pulp juice even more trend-worthy is its health-giving properties. The beverage is naturally rich in fiber as well as antioxidants.
Due to its flavor, waste-reducing nature, and naturally occurring health benefits, cacao pulp juice is expected to appeal to a huge range of consumers in 2024 as Marika Van Santvoort, the founder of cacao pulp juice company Pacha de Cacao, highlighted to Confectionary News: "[The juice] is going to be for people who care about what kind of food they consume and for those who have a very active lifestyle, who live in cities, who care about their health and about products, but also about aesthetics."
Mushrooms Will Be Used Innovatively
Mushrooms have been a trending food for many years now. The New York Times labeled mushrooms the ingredient of the year in 2022 (CITATION) and they have been consistently celebrated as an alternative to meat since the 1980s. Come 2024, we expect mushrooms to be as relevant as ever thanks to innovative uses for the fungi which are becoming established in the United States and beyond.
One of the newer culinary applications for mushrooms comes in the form of mushroom coffee. This is regular coffee that has been blended with medicinal fungi such as lion's mane. Enthusiasts claim that mushroom coffee reduces stress, boosts immunity, and supports heart health. As such, the product is well-suited to our modern food culture which remains obsessed with wellness. Unsurprisingly, the trend is already taking off; mushroom coffee videos have nearly 8 million views on TikTok and this number is only expected to grow as the product becomes more established during 2024.
Elsewhere, mushrooms will continue to be used across the culinary world as a meat substitute. It is predicted that the trend of processed faux-meat products will be replaced by mushrooms being prepared and eaten in their natural form. This is a back-to-basics approach that stands in direct contrast to other, increasingly complex food products that are flooding our grocery stores and restaurants.
Spice And Sweet Flavor Combinations Will Reign Supreme
Ever since "Hot Ones" became one of the biggest shows on YouTube, the food industry has been inundated with a range of new, spicy products. Demand for and interest in spicy foods is not predicted to slow down anytime soon. For the average consumer, 2024 will present a growing interest in foods defined by a spicy and sweet flavor combination known in some circles as 'swicy.' This combination is already prevalent in the United States with Shake Shack topping some of its burgers with a bourbon bacon jam.
Other restaurant brands, including Momofuku, have been selling sweet and spicy dishes for years. Marguerite Mariscal, CEO of Momofuku and Momofuku Goods explained why she thought the trend was catching on to Today: "When you look at what's universal across multiple types of cuisine, you see this idea of sweet heat pretty consistently. That's when you start seeing a trend, even before it's considered a trend, because it's just something that is appealing to people."
In 2024, consumers will have the ability to enjoy sweet and spicy dishes at home as well as in restaurants. This is thanks to the abundance of condiments and sauces coming onto the market such as Momofuku's Chili Crunch Hot Honey. Thanks to products like these,home cooks will only have to exert minimal effort to produce the swicy dishes of their dreams.
Beverages Low In Sweetness Will Become Popular
Beverages are known as being one of the most trend-driven subgroups in the entire food and drink industry. After all, who could forget the sudden booms in flavored sparkling water, hard root beer, and hard seltzer that have taken place in recent years? As reported by IFT, Julie Johnson, president of a market research firm, believes another beverage trend is imminent albeit one defined by a distinct flavor profile: "Consumers say they want lower sweetness in favor of other flavors, and we see that in the marketplace with a shift from sweet to bold flavors."
These bold flavors will make use of other trends prevalent during 2024 including the growing demand for healthy, functional ingredients. As a result, popular beverages will likely eschew sweet ingredients for the complex flavors and health-giving properties of botanicals. These drinks will have huge appeal as they are perceived as being both healthy and a treat. As such, they will be regularly enjoyed by a range of consumers throughout 2024.
Plant-Based Seafood Will Establish Itself
There have been numerous reports of plant-based seafood products being developed in recent years. None have been as effective at mimicking the animal's appearance, taste, and texture as cell-based products. These are products that are cultivated in vats through a process known as biomass fermentation, resulting in whole cuts that look, feel, and taste like seafood. The main issue with these products has been cost; it has previously been estimated that it costs Wildtype, a prominent producer of plant-based seafood, $533 per pound to produce its sushi-grade salmon. But, in 2024, it is predicted that these costs will continue to fall as concerns about overfishing and the ethics of farm-reared seafood mount. The result will be a net increase in the amount of plant-based seafood that's consumed.
Elsewhere in the industry, other plant-based seafood products will continue to work their way into the mainstream. This is demonstrated by the addition of plant-based tuna -- made from pea protein -- to restaurant chains like Pokeworks in the United States. Progress like this supports Allied Market Research's prediction that the plant-based seafood market would reach $1.3 billion by 2031 with a compound annual growth rate of 42.3%. 2024 will undoubtedly form a large part of that growth.
Products Made From Food Waste Will Become Increasingly Popular
Consumer purchasing decisions are becoming increasingly driven by ethical decisions. As people become more environmentally minded they are demanding products that not only avoid contributing to these issues but actively help tackle them. In terms of food, consumers are subsequently supporting brands that are actively tackling food waste. Many expect this trend to grow during 2024.
Alcoholic beverage companies are among those leading the circular food trend with Toast, a British beer company, proving especially effective. Toast uses surplus bread to brew beer, but it's not just in the United Kingdom where companies using the circular food model are becoming increasingly popular. In the United States, there are several drinks companies using surplus ingredients to make excellent products including Misadventure & Co., a company that produces vodka from excess baked goods. Sachi, a Singaporean company, has also joined the party, producing the world's first soy alcoholic beverage from soy whey, a by-product of the tofu-making process.
Such a plethora of like-minded companies all tackling the issue of food waste in innovative and delicious ways indicates that drinks made from the circular food model will be a huge trend in 2024 and beyond. After all, the issue of food waste is not going away anytime soon.
Gourmet Instant Noodles Will Remain Popular
In the modern day, many people feel like they don't have time to take a breath, let alone cook. As a result, convenience foods such as instant noodles are more popular than ever. Today's consumers don't just want convenience, however, they also want flavor. Home cooks have long been upgrading their instant noodles but now many companies are starting to do the work for them.
These products are called gourmet instant noodles and are made with high-quality ingredients in a huge range of flavors. In some instances, these products are even better than restaurant quality food as instant noodle blogger Hans Lienesch highlighted to Taste: "I've had some ramen from restaurants in the United States that was pretty good. There are instant noodle varieties that can top all of them."
These gourmet noodles don't just taste better than other convenience foods, they often contain fewer preservatives. Consumers are also drawn to the product's relatively low prices. Even brilliant instant noodles, such as NongShim's Spicy Pot-au-feu instant noodles, cost around $4 a packet. As the global economic outlook remains bleak, gourmet instant noodles' blend of convenience, taste, and price ensures they will remain immensely popular during 2024.
Single-Serve Treats Will Become The Norm
As with many 2024 food trends, TikTok has a part to play in the ongoing rise of single-serve treats. These products -- often slices of cake, a pastry, or other sweet treats -- form part of TikTok's little treat culture, a lifestyle wherein people reward themselves as they go about their day. These purchases are, by their nature, small and provide a short burst of instant gratification.
Little treat culture has already had an effect on the food world. Many cake shops in cities across the United States now do a roaring trade in single servings. Previously, whole cake sales were the backbone of the business. Other food companies are rapidly catching on to the idea and single-serve sweet treats are now flooding the shelves of grocery stores around the country.
The rise in treat culture comes from an inability for many individuals to afford or guarantee life's larger joys as American Jules Zucker explained to The New York Times: "We're living in an era where security and 'the big joys,' if you will, are not guaranteed at all. So all we have to fall back on are small comforts. It's almost like a poor man's hedonism." 2024 will continue to bring hardship and uncertainty to many Americans thanks to high living costs and numerous conflicts across the globe. As such, little treats will continue to be a widely used wellness crutch far into 2024 and beyond.
Clean Energy Drinks Will Finally Break Through
Energy drinks are not typically thought of as a health or wellness product. For a long time, they were actually viewed as the opposite; dangerous substances that contain all sorts of unknown additives. Despite that, the demand for energy drinks remains high, especially as so many people in today's society feel exhausted and overworked.
As well as being tired, today's consumers are also health conscious which has created some energy drink-related dissonance as Sian Edwards, group insights manager, explained to Just Drinks: "Despite consumer demand for energizing beverages and high category growth, traditional energy drinks are seen by some consumers as unhealthy, high in sugar and unnatural [...] So, while demand for energizing beverages remains high, we're seeing consumers look for a different kind of boost."
This demand will see clean energy drinks, natural products that can boost energy levels without overloading the body with sugar or artificial ingredients, finally break through into the mainstream during 2024. These products, exemplified by those produced by Tenzing, utilize natural ingredients that consumer's perceive as healthy such as green tea and honey. This allows these products to ride the wave of wellness while also meeting consumer's needs for an energy boost. What's more, many clean energy drink companies also tout environmentally friendly production methods and ethos making them even more suited to the modern-day consumer.
Women's Health Food Products Will Become Commonplace
Female-specific nutrition -- food products that have been designed specifically with female's physiological needs in mind -- are bound to be one of the biggest food trends in 2024. We have already seen the beginnings of this trend with recipes designed specifically for women, like TikTok's Sleepy Girl Mocktail, becoming incredibly popular. Specially designed products are not far behind.
Specialist food products are often marketed to women for certain stages of their lives, for example, during and post-pregnancy. However, 2024 will see products released that have been designed for use throughout women's lives. Ankita Singal-Sareen, a senior consultant at a product development business, highlighted this to Food Navigator: "The specific role of nutrition in female health is finally gaining attention. Targeted nutrition could support women across various life stages and the associated physiologic, neurologic, and hormonal variabilities."
Examples of women's health food products that are rapidly gaining acclaim include chocolates produced by Phasey which address the painful side effects of periods thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like hemp. Another example is seed blends produced by Agni which build on traditional Chinese medicine to support women during their ovulation cycle. Such product variety ensures that women's health food products will become a robust industry unto itself. We believe 2024 will prove a pivotal year for the development of this industry.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.