Welcome to our first blog of the year! As we head into 2024, it is important that we keep our fingers on the pulse when it comes to industry trends. So, here are our top picks of key food, drink & equipment trends that we believe will shape the foodservice sector this year and beyond.
Affordable, smaller plates
This trend is all about consumers treating themselves little and often as well as enjoying the experience of ordering a variety of smaller plates to share at the table. This may be in the form of a single serve food item on the go, or diners treating themselves to a combination of starters and side dishes rather than a full three course meal. Therefore, providing smaller plates or portion sizes as part of your menu offering can be an effective way of bringing in new and existing customers and growing sales.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Environmental sustainability, carbon footprint reduction and food waste management are all hot topics for foodservice businesses. Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact production has on the planet and according to the latest figures from Peach20/20, 70% of consumers say they actively try to lead an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Some 44% say that sustainability is important in their choice of destination when going out to eat and 34% say they are willing to spend more with brands with strong sustainability credentials. Including stories on your menus about where the ingredients have come from and how they have been grown can be a huge hit.
Technology has also evolved and we are increasingly seeing that the ‘greenest’ products are also those which make the most business sense. Businesses should therefore be considering how they can reduce waste, save energy and cut down on water usage across their entire supply chain. As we discussed in our last blog, many catering equipment companies are adopting more eco-friendly equipment as well as using more energy efficient methods. This approach not only achieves efficiencies but can also help reduce costs.
The shift towards healthier eating will remain a key factor in 2024 as consumers continue to find new ways to take care of their health. Whether it’s boosting energy, improving gut health or supporting cognitive function, consumers are actively looking for products that contain specific ingredients that offer distinct health benefits. Another diet which looks set to rise in popularity next year is the anti-inflammatory diet so, expect to see a return of the basics - natural ingredients, non-gluten and low sugar. While veganism is also still going strong and has huge potential, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their food comes from and what is in it. The industry is moving away from processed and unnatural ingredients and becoming more focused on using ethical and sustainable ingredients, for example making use of the entire animal and buying local product. With such a wide range of diets and consumers becoming aware of the impact food has on their health, consumers are looking for places that can cater to everyone's different needs. Therefore, providing a varied option to customers of plant based, gluten free and local meat can really boost profits and drive footfall.
Natural, clean label products and non-alcoholic beverages
The growing emphasis on health and wellness is one of the key drivers behind the rise of non-alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic options including herbal infusions, functional beverages and alcohol-free spirits are all gaining traction. The one thing to watch out for in the non-alcoholic industry for 2024 is fermentation. This will be the main driver of the next wave of the ‘low-and-no’ boom and will open up significant opportunities to innovate with high-quality non-alcoholic options.
As consumers pay more attention to ingredient labels, they are expecting simplicity, transparency and traceability in their food products. Consumers want to know where and how products are made, raised and grown. They also want their food and drinks to be made with the most functional and natural ingredients possible. The functional drinks market, for one, is expanding and diversifying, along with functional coffees and teas infused with ingredients that provide an extra boost of energy. A new category of functional beverages which is likely to be hot in 2024 is euphoric drinks.
New food experiences
Despite the rise in the cost of living and other financial pressures, consumers are still finding the time and money to treat themselves to different food experiences when they eat out. Whether it be through taste, texture, colour or sensation, people are interested in trying new sensory experiences. This not only captures the consumer’s imaginations - appealing to the more playful side of diners, but it also gives chefs the opportunity to be creative and inventive. This opens up plentiful opportunities for businesses to experiment with different foods - leveraging key trends and seeking out innovation.
Consumers are also becoming far more experimental with their food choices and are seeking foods that incorporate new flavours from other cultures, therefore expect to see more tastes and ingredients from global cuisines. Cuban, Sri Lankan and Pan African dishes all emerged last year, with other cuisines such as Caribbean, Mexican and Eastern European/Peruvian already gaining momentum. Expect to see more bold flavours, colours, textures and innovative shapes across foodservice menus as consumers look for culinary experiences that are flavourful and visually impactful.
Nostalgic flavours/celebration moments
While their a rise in experimentation, consumers still want familiarity and will continue to come back to the flavours they love and that remind them of happy childhood memories. This offers businesses the perfect opportunity to reinvent and put a twist on the good old classics - whilst also creating a sense of fun through introducing exciting new concepts. Consumers are also looking for new, special occasions to celebrate throughout the year - and more of them. Therefore businesses must ensure that they have that unique, premium offering to make those moments even more memorable.
Those were our top foodservice trend predictions for 2024. We look forward to another year working within the foodservice industry and can't wait to see how this year turns out. If you're interesting in elevating your PR and marketing then please get in touch - we would love to discuss how we can support you.