As the new year unfolds, it is time to have a look at some trends that will shape one of our most intimate relationships: How and what we eat.
The choices we make as individuals lead to trends we set as a society, ultimately shaping our culinary world. While some trends have been there for some time, some interesting new trends are also on the horizon.
Let’s delve right into it.
1. Healthy Gut
As you can read in the reports of the past years, the topic of a healthy gut microbiome is still up and the forefront, with interest still being very high. New products are steadily entering the market, and startups focusing on this topic are being continuously founded. We expect to see more fermented foods and probiotic/prebiotic products in the coming year. Some examples of these include yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented cheeses, tempeh, miso, pickled vegetables, and even drinks like kombucha.
2. Holistic Eating
„You are what you eat.” While the majority of us know this saying, we tend to take it more seriously now. The pandemic has heightened our awareness of the importance of a healthy body early on. We look for foods that offer a multitude of health benefits at once, may it be vitamins, minerals, or exotic superfoods. With the rise of the silver society, the demand is only growing.
3. Personalized Nutrition
This trend has been going on for some time and doesn’t seem to slow down. From time-restricted eating (intermittent fasting) to cutting out specific food groups and following a personalized plan, we are eager to learn more about what each body needs rather than one-for-all diets.
4. Beyond Mental Health
Have you ever wondered how the food we eat affects not just our bodies but also our minds? As we lead increasingly busy lives, it’s not just about staying healthy, but also about maximizing our cognitive performance. That’s why this year we might see the focus shifting from “good for your blood vessels” to “good for your brain performance” on food labels. So, the next time you grab a snack, think about how it might impact your mental well-being.
We are becoming more aware of the importance of drinking enough water. While apps that aim to help you drink enough during the day have been on the market for quite some time, a new type of water is emerging. “Smart Water” or functional beverages are on the rise with “special features” like prebiotics, electrolytes, vitamins, sugar-free flavors, or even added collagen for improved skin, all promising an enhanced drinking experience.
6. More Protein Beyond Meat
More and more people are becoming aware of their meat consumption and are looking for vegan alternatives. The trend of plant-based foods rich in protein continues to be strong. While meat alternatives are available in most supermarkets by now, buyers have started to come back to more natural products like fruits and veggies.
But what’s next, you may ask? Well, vegan fish alternatives might just be the next big thing in 2024! And if that’s not exciting enough, protein-packed products made of mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh, and legumes are also expected to steal the spotlight over complex meat alternatives.
People are also looking into unprocessed vegan diets that focus on whole food sources like tofu, beans, and even bread to meet their protein goals. This not only addresses concerns about animal protection and environmental ethics but also helps save money. So, are you ready to join the vegan trend and try out some delicious plant-based options?
Consumers not only care more about what they eat but also how sustainable it is. Farmers’ markets have had their small comeback, while customers look more at the origin of the products they buy, and organizations like TooGoodToGo fight against food waste. More broadly speaking, agriculture is also slowly becoming more sustainable as farmers face climate change as well.
Sustainability doesn’t only refer to what is inside but, even more importantly, to what is outside. While stricter regulations try to limit one-way cutleries and plates, consumers are also more aware of how much plastic we bring home from our trips to the grocery store. Slowly but surely companies develop packaging that can be (easier) reused, recycled, or is compostable. While this is a promising trend, the danger of “greenwashing” remains persistent.
9. Transparent Labelling
When it comes to processed foods, “transparency” is the trend word. We consumers want to know and easily understand what we are buying. While companies try to showcase their products in the best light possible through promising words such as “natural” or “rich in vitamins”, organizations and governments are working on systems that should make comparing products easier, such as the Nutri-Score. Improving technologies such as blockchain have promising opportunities. This trend does not only affect grocery stores but restaurants alike. Let’s see how far we get this year.
10. Affordable food
We all have experienced a rise in food prices in the last year. While price has always been an important factor for food choices, it has moved back to the forefront of the discussions and will continue to be a hot topic in the coming year. As consumers, we become more aware of the value we get for what we pay and demand high-quality ingredients in the foods we buy.
In the past years, there have been major shifts in what, how, where, and when we eat, and it seems that 2024 will be no less exciting. The beauty of these trends is that, although they might seem global, every continent, country, and community will have its own trends. So keep your eyes open, as the next opportunity for an exciting food project might be right around the corner. And don’t forget to enjoy your food with all your senses and in the company of the people you love.
If you want to see how the nutrition trends developed compared to last year, check out this post.