Ingredient 2024 Food and Beverage Trend Report

2023 brought us tinned fish, savory cocktails, nostalgia-inspired everything, and a proverbial charcuterie board of various other food and drink trends. Now that the year is officially behind us, what surprises and delights does 2024 have in store for us? As always, our culinary, content, and branding teams are all in on the prediction fun.

Unsurprisingly, we’re already seeing rising trends that have been influenced by current social and economic factors, and we’ve started putting several of these trends to work for our culinary and CPG clients (think grab-and-go breakfasts and nextover meals). But how will these factors continue to shape and transform the ever-evolving landscape of the food industry? From picnicking to protein-based snacks, get a taste of the most noteworthy trends we see on the horizon and how you might align your offerings to maintain relevance and build relationships with your customers in 2024.

Picnicking: Togetherness & Budget-Friendly Escape

Dining outdoors offers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life; it encapsulates the essence of a carefree, budget-friendly lifestyle. We expect picnicking to rise as an outdoor activity for consumers in 2024. The allure is in the freedom — no reservations, no dress codes, just an open space and a blanket to share!

People love picnicking for the simple joy of being outdoors with loved ones. It transforms a simple meal into a multisensory experience, and the informality of picnics encourages laughter and relaxation. It also piggybacks on a trend of wanting to spend time outside, which began during the pandemic and has maintained steam.

Beyond the social aspect, picnicking will be embraced for its cost-effectiveness, offering an inexpensive alternative to traditional dining out. The new picnic is about meeting friends in the park and bringing something to share. People can curate their own meals with homemade delights or affordable store-bought treats. We’re seeing a lot of themed picnics, too — it might be fairies, Harry Potter, or a bunch of women in white dresses acting out a Victorian-era drama in a park while eating a fancy meal.

For CPG brands, the picnicking trend is all about making outdoor dining easy — not everyone wants to make everything that goes in their picnic basket! Brands offering on-trend portable snacks, pre-packaged meals, and beverages will be popular in the age of the picnic, along with grocery stores with convenient grab-and-go options.

Functional Foods Take Center Stage

What we consume directly impacts our health. In 2024, the trajectory of food trends is steering toward functional foods. After all, we just went through a pandemic! Amid all the uncertainties we’ve been through and all the turmoil in the world, we can find solace in taking control of our well-being through mindful food choices — especially if they taste good and make us feel good.

There are many ways for brands to participate in the functional food movement — it’s multigenerational and holistic. It can be about beautiful skin, more energy, better digestion, brain health, or increasing longevity. Negative messages about dieting and food choices have lost their appeal, and consumers are looking for positive approaches to their food-as-medicine journey.

Protein-packed, veggie-infused snacks are emerging as favorites, providing a convenient and tasty means to address nutritional needs. Case in point: we’re seeing bean snacks in all shapes and sizes, from crunchy garbanzos to pickled lupini beans. Small-format options that are nutrient dense and high in protein allow for mindful consumption and reinforce the idea that every bite can help our overall well-being.

The most successful functional foods will be the ones that seamlessly integrate into daily eating patterns. For adults, think fermented foods like kimchi, Rao’s marinara for sensitive stomachs, or protein-enriched Banza pasta. We’re also seeing better-for-you energy boosters as an alternative to caffeine, like superfood greens powders — or THC and CBD-infused alternatives to alcohol, which can help with sleep, anxiety, and pain. For kids, we’re talking about things like high protein waffles and mac & cheese. High-protein is the new low-carb!

Rise and Thrive: All the Breakfast Trends

Breakfast foods are poised to steal the spotlight in 2024 — and it’s partly because of the economy. Breakfast is a less expensive meal, no matter where or what time of day it is eaten. And let’s face it, breakfast is always delicious!

These days everyone is racing out the door in the morning, so there’s plenty of need for easy, grab-and-go breakfast solutions. Brands are quick to recognize this shift, with a growing focus on breakfast product innovation. Handheld options, like snacking granola, overnight oats, egg pucks, yogurt parfaits, and breakfast sandwiches and biscuits, are gaining popularity. Also amazing: breakfast meal prep bentos. Expect new offerings that emphasize convenience without compromising on flavor.

The breakfast trend goes beyond food. It’s also a cultural shift toward moments of connection and the joy of simpler, more affordable entertaining. Hosting a breakfast event offers a less expensive yet equally satisfying way to connect with others. By positioning breakfast as a value-driven and inclusive option, brands can foster a sense of togetherness around the morning table.

Breakfast is moving away from sweet flavor profiles and more toward savory ones. A great example of this is taking a breakfast food that is often sweet, like a waffle, a Dutch baby, or a croissant, and giving it a savory twist. This is a great chance to explore global flavors and take advantage of new savory trends, too. We expect to see lots of play with Asian flavors in 2024.

From Leftovers to Nextovers: Tapping into Culinary Creativity

Gone are the days of reheating the same dish. Nextovers redefine leftovers by transforming them into something entirely new and exciting. In light of today’s economic times, this trend is a savvy, delicious way to spend less money, waste less food, and use what you already have.

Planned nextovers are entering the meal-planning scene: making a large meal base, such as a cut of meat, with the intention of enjoying it one night and using it for something else later in the week. For instance, we recently developed a pot roast recipe for one of our clients to be eaten on the first night, then repurposed it into agnolotti with a simple sauce for the second night — two impressive, crowd-pleasing meals from one simple roast.

Unplanned nextovers may be more casual in their approach, but they’re just as creative, as people try to use every bit of their food. Leftover risotto becomes arancini, day-old bread becomes croutons, beet greens become salad, and chicken bones become stock: it’s a delicious, budget-friendly journey of reinvention.

Feasting as Consumers Crave Connection

The desire for shared moments around a table is driving a resurgence of “feasting,” where elaborate meals are centered around one main dish, surrounded by an array of delectable small dishes — or family-style dinners with larger dishes that can be passed and shared. This taps into the innate human need for community and togetherness, turning meals into social events.

The potluck is back! Millennials are realizing that it’s their turn to host — but with busy schedules, cooking a full meal for a large group can be a challenge. Instead, they’re bringing families and communities together through shared meals. Portable, shareable, crowd-size dishes will be big heading into 2024.

Expect marketing strategies to embrace this communal spirit, featuring images that showcase hands reaching for shared dishes, emphasizing the joy and connection fostered by collective dining — and underlining the idea that feasting is not just about the food but the shared experiences and connections woven into every bite.

THC Transparency: Better Labels for Easier Choices

THC-infused food and drinks are set to continue their ascent, but in 2024 we anticipate an increased focus on tools, education, and easily accessible product information to help consumers navigate this new landscape.

When people go to dispensaries, they get a great in-person introduction to the different products, so they can have exactly the experience they want. As more THC-infused food and drinks hit the market, consumers are going to be looking for similar guidance on the products that they buy. If you’re looking for a THC product to make you feel energized and happy, you don’t want to buy one that puts you to sleep! The language used to describe THC ingredients, dosage, and effects will need to be standardized and clearly communicated to give consumers the best experience possible.

With the THC market expanding, more and more people will be trying it for the first time. It will be more important than ever for THC brands to help demystify the experiences for newbies. We’re already seeing this happening: some companies are offering low-dose options, like 1 mg mints, so consumers can safely and easily experiment to find out what their optimum dosing is.

Omnichannel Strategies – The Key to Consumers’ (Hearts) Carts:

Grocery stores are leveraging the power of technology and social media to create a dynamic and interactive shopping experience and reduce the number of clicks it takes to purchase — and it’s a game-changer.

Platforms like Instacart are at the forefront of this trend, integrating recipes into the shopping journey and guiding consumers from social media inspiration to grocery cart fulfillment. Instacart allows grocery stores to put shoppable recipes and curated collections in their app — and they let TikTok creators link directly from recipe videos to their app, too.

We’re also seeing a lot of trending CPG companies — like Graza olive oil or Banza gluten-free pastas — do a fantastic job of marketing themselves on Instagram. If you see a tasty chili crisp scrolling by, it’s hard to resist if you can buy it with one click.

Food companies are also doing a great job of using influencers to drive sales: consumers want the lifestyle almost more than the product. If they see a person using it, and they can get it with a single click, the decision to purchase becomes that much easier. And we’re not just seeing CPG companies jumping on this trend — we’re also seeing it in membership-driven food services: think Thrive Market, Imperfect Foods, and even local CSAs.