This month is all about starting afresh: processed but not ultra-processed, healthy but not boring, comforting but not over-indulgent, and choosing brands who are doing their bit for the planet. Here’s our round-up of predictions for 2024.
Our predictions for 2024
Consumer backlash against Ultra Processed Foods (UPFs)
Transparency and clear communications are going to be crucial for brands looking to win consumers. According to Mintel, 70% of consumers try to avoid UPFs in the UK, which still leaves us trailing behind our European counterparts. Consumers are starting to understand the difference between processed and ultra-processed and where possible stick to the products that are closest to whole foods.
Photo by Ella Olsson
Plant-based brands distancing themselves from UPFs
In a similar vein, plant-based is going back to the whole food message, prioritising less processing, and highlighting natural, plant ingredients. This year, we’ll see pioneers in the plant-based category raising the standards of the category and being much more transparent about ingredients.
Photo by ThisIsEngineering
We’ll also see more natural food with boosted nutrition e.g. vitamin enriched salad leaves which use innovative technology and feed into the consumer demand for nutritious foods that help them to age better.
Gen X leading the way
Gen X (44 – 58-year-olds) will be a lucrative audience for functional and fortified food and drink. Willingness to buy fortified food and drink is much higher than with their older Baby Boomer counterparts and they are much more likely to buy products that make health claims related to cognitive health, mental health, and sleep health etc.
Where Gen X leads, millennials will follow. Consumers are thinking about healthy ageing earlier in life and are happy to talk openly about conditions and symptoms. Products aimed at menopausal women are a great example of where brands have responded to consumer demand.
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV
The Mexican way
According to Whole Foods, customers are exploring the flavours of Mexico beyond the taco, which is why they included the Tajin Clasico Seasoning in the mix, reports The Metro, in a deep dive into the upmarket retailer’s 2024 Discovery Box. Expect to see innovation and new lines from Latin American flavour afficionados Capsicana in 2024 in a supermarket near you.
Photo from getty images
Home cooking shortcuts
In 2024, Mintel reports that time-saving tech and shortcuts are helpful in today’s busy lifestyle, where people want to eat healthy on a budget. 67% adults in the UK are more interested in energy efficiency and brands are developing products for slow cooking and air fryers to fulfil this demand.
Comfort is key
While consumers now expect brands to be sustainable and lead the way, sustainability is still not a priority for consumers struggling with the cost of living. One interesting aspect is that, according to Mintel, 33% of UK adults (47% of 16-34s) say sustainability claims make indulgent treats more permissible. We all recognise that food is a comfort in times of stress and while food and drink launches with a sustainability claim will accelerate, this claim must not take precedence over comfort and pleasure.
In 2024 comfort will be valued as the prime selling point. New iterations of indulgence and pleasure will be appreciated with category blurring products such as healthier frozen snacking substitutes such as frozen yogurt and products that replicate restaurant quality.
Tickling our Tastebuds in 2024
The Black Stuff
Expect more creative brand extensions to encourage trial among new customer demographics. Guinness cocktails topped The Times New Year Style Barometer.
Forget Dry January and reach for a Guinness Soft Serve, which could be mistaken for an ice cream, a Praline Flip or a Red Panda 2.0.
Our Survey says…
The most Googled Recipe of 2023 was… Bibimbap, a Korean rice bowl. This was a popular, customisable dish, which we saw trending on TikTok.
We can’t wait to see where our tastebuds will take us in the year ahead!