Words Marisa Cutillas

If you’re into nutrition and you see food as fuel, then you’ll be pleased to know that the hottest trend in food next year will be health: harnessing the power of food to help you live a longer, healthier life – as found in Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Trends Survey – the defining report in the industry. The past few years have seen a major paradigm shift in the way human beings relate to food. It’s no longer just about flavour, texture, and novelty (though all these qualities continue to appeal) but also about approaching food from humanistic, customised, and scientific viewpoints. Below are the top trends that will be winning over consumers from across the globe very soon.

Trust The Process

Mintel reports that consumers are demanding greater transparency and accountability from food and drink brands. They are interested in aspects such as production and processing since they are more aware of the potential risks of processed and ultra-processed foods. They are additionally aware of the environmental impact of the food industry, and wish to support companies that align with their values.

How, then, can food and beverage businesses build trust and boost transparency? The answer is multifaceted but can include providing buyers with more detailed information about the ingredients used and processing techniques employed to make food. They can demonstrate their commitment to customers’ health by sourcing their ingredients from sustainable, ethical suppliers, demonstrating full transparency about their environmental impact, and working with independent organisations to certify their products.

Age Reframed

The stigmas surrounding older people have been completely debunked. Advances in medical healthcare, increased awareness of healthy lifestyle choices, and a growing desire to stay active in our senior years mean we are living longer than ever, and food brands are waking up to the important role they can play in extending lifespans.

Food and beverage companies can cater to mature customers in multiple ways. They can develop products that are high in protein and fibre to help maintain muscle mass and boost immunity and optimal mental health. Other items that will be embraced by older shoppers include foods that are friendly to the digestive system, fortified with vitamins and minerals, and catered to people with conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. They can additionally align with this group by providing foods that promote good sleep and good joint health, as well as those that provide fuel for fitness routines. One industry that is burgeoning is that of meal delivery services, which can prepare customised meals for seniors.

Eating, Optimised

Busy lifestyles, rising food costs, and an increasing demand for convenience – coupled with an interest in healthy food – have given greater importance to technology as a means of optimising our eating behaviour. Mintel predicts that there will be a host of new technologies that will help us plan meals, shop for food and drink, and cook food more efficiently. Currently, top worldwide meal kit delivery services (think HelloFresh, Home Chef, Gobble, Purple Carrot, and CookUnity) are delivering kits containing all the ingredients and recipes home customers need to prepare delicious home-cooked meals in a jiffy. Recipe kits are ideal for busy workers, as well as those with mobility issues. 2024 will also see the release of a host of apps that track consumers’ nutritional intake and the amount of food they waste. Top food brands, meanwhile, will be offering recipes and cooking tips online on their social media channels.

Being Human

The AI boom may be one of the defining phenomena of the current zeitgeist, but many people are already a little jaded by the ‘standardised’ effect it is having on their lives – and they are keen to acquire products that are human-centred. Brands will be offering services such as gourmet subscription services, diet-centred foods (including those approved for low-carbohydrate, vegan, or Mediterranean regimens), and products made with locally sourced ingredients. Part of being human is being aware of the result of one’s actions on the environment and wildlife. As such, companies wishing to connect with eco-friendly customers can do so by manufacturing fair-trade, ethically sourced products, as well as those promoting social and environmental causes.

More Than Money

Consumers will prioritise value over price, meaning that they will be willing to pay more for items that foster their health and align with their values. This category overlaps with many others, as it essentially involves a demand for quality, sustainability, ethical practices, and fair-trade measures. Savvy brands can do much more than try to lower their carbon footprint. They can also offer items made with organic ingredients, work alongside local and regional suppliers, donate to charities and social causes, and partner with non-profit organisations.

Relationship Renaissance

Buyers are interested in making meaningful connections with others, and they are drawn to experiences that can provide them with a sense of community. Through their products and services, brands can empower customers to make new friendships and battle isolation – a factor that is vital in the age of remote work.

Brands can tap into this trend in a myriad of entertaining, and engaging ways. They can host events and workshops where customers learn about food, create online communities, offer products and services that are meant to be shared with others (think a meal kit for a small dinner party), and partner with other brands to create unique experiences. We are already seeing examples of this on the Coast. Many top restaurants are partnering with talented chefs to bring diners together for exciting tasting meals, cooking workshops, and more food events. It’s a good opportunity to meet the chefs and fellow food fans and plan future meet-ups!

New Green Reality

The power of the sustainability trend is being driven by the evident reality of climate change, and people are fascinated by food companies that form part of their educational journey. To fulfil this need, brands will be providing more information about their products on their websites, developing innovative products (including plant-based alternatives to traditional foods), and providing customers with information about the steps they can take to reduce their environmental impact.

Positive Perspectives

If you’re anything like me, then the repeated news that most countries aren’t anywhere near the agreed stipulations in the Paris Agreement is getting you down. Consumers want to make a positive change and they are ready to put their money where their mouths are, but they are also looking for brands that offer positive, optimistic messages. Instead of spreading doom and gloom, why not spread information about the measurable benefits of a business’ efforts at energy-saving, recyclable packaging, or water-saving measures?

What’s In Store For The Future?

Virtual Reality Shopping

Customers are keen to embrace new technologies that enable them to access quality food and drink experiences. For instance, some 43 per cent of people surveyed said they were interested in virtual reality storefronts. This tech involves donning a VR headset and entering a virtual shop, where you can view all the products available, as though you were inside an actual supermarket or greengrocers. The only difference is that you pay for your purchase from home and you don’t waste the time or fuel getting there and back.

Augmented Reality

This is also a big demand for AR shopping opportunities. You would still be shopping within a ‘real’ store, but your experience would be greatly enhanced by AR visuals. For instance, you could scan a product with your AR app and obtain extra information about everything from its contents to its nutritional value. Those who wear AR glasses, meanwhile, can access all this information without having to pull out their phone.

Trending Bites

The Global Food Report is firmly focused on macro trends, but if you’re a foodie who doesn’t want to miss out on the hottest new gourmet dishes, then make sure to sample the following:

  • Innovative Food Pairings: Sweet and sour dishes are so last millennium! When you’re out and about at your favourite restaurant, watch out for combos like sea salt chocolate and vegetable ice-cream, floral flavours combined with strong ingredients like chilli and ginger, and savoury products such as crisps, jazzed up with taste boosters like umami and kokumi.
  • Escapism Through Food: Around 73 per cent of global consumers have stated that they enjoy travelling the world through food. Ube, matcha, and dragon fruit are top ingredients to watch out for, and you can look forward to more national and regional goodies making their way into mainstream products and gourmet dishes.
  • South and East Asian Flavours: If you haven’t tried sumac, shishito peppers, patis (fish sauce) or gochujang yet, what are you waiting for? These ingredients, which feature so prominently on top mukbang channels, are readily available on Amazon and Asian stores across the Coast so you can easily recreate many of the dishes you view online.
  • Premium Origins: Savvy restaurants and brands are highlighting the premium provenance of the ingredients used in their products and dishes. From Madagascan vanilla to Filipino ube, Belgian chocolate to Sicilian lemon, it’s all about authenticity, traceability, and transparency.
  • New Taste Sensations: If you like your espresso martini with a touch of parmesan cheese, then you are probably fully clued-up on this trend. It’s all about creating complex tastes that are new yet still familiar, so much so that they create trends and cause cravings that must be fulfilled! Just a few ingredients playing a starring role in this trend include hot honey, umami additions to food sauces, sriracha in mayonnaise, and salted caramel in confectionery.
  • Spicy Bakes: Closely related to the previous trend is the interest in sweet goods jazzed up with cayenne, chipotle, and other hot spices. From chilli raspberry to mango habanero, cakes, cookies, pies, and dessert cups will surprise you with spices usually associated with savoury goods.
  • Butter Boards: If you enjoy entertaining then you’ve probably delighted your guests with more than one charcuterie board. There’s a newcomer to the party, though, and it’s sinfully (but deliciously) high in fat: butter! Imagine dipping crackers, crudités, or fried dough into a myriad of different kinds of butter – including those made with honey, dried fruits and flowers, herbs, chilli, and even chimichurri!