With the new year upon us, prognosticators of all stripes are already predicting the latest trends for 2024. This year, consumers can expect some new trends and some that will continue from recent years. For instance, plant-based alternatives to meat and fish are likely to become even more prevalent as the desire for better health and wellness keeps growing. At the same time, forces like climate change and political instability around the world are highlighting a desire for comfort foods and relaxation. Below are some examples of the newest food trends to look for in 2024.
Simpler Meat Alternatives
In the last couple of decades, there have been a number of innovations in the use of plant-based alternatives to meat and poultry. However, many of these innovations involve complex chemical formulas intended to replicate the taste, smell, and texture of meat. While some of these products have had some popular success, there is a new drive to use simpler ingredient lists with fewer items. So instead of elaborate concoctions that don’t really fool anyone, natural ingredients like mushrooms, nuts, tempeh, and legumes are healthier and often provide better flavor.
There are also various fruits and vegetables that have begun to be used as meat-free alternatives in different culinary contexts. Jackfruit, for instance, is a tropical fruit with a meaty texture that resembles shredded chicken or pork when cooked. Also, historically alternatives have been sought primarily for meat; but in 2024, you can expect to see examples of “faux fish” that are similarly made from plant-based ingredients. For instance, carrots have been used to mimic lox, and tomatoes can have the appearance and taste of tuna when prepared in the right way.
“Boost With Benefits”
Most people like the idea of eating healthy these days, and food manufacturers have traditionally responded by offering countless products that have reduced fat, sugar, or calories. In 2024, though, consumers are interested in more than just “healthy;” they also want foods that are known to have specific health benefits. This good-for-you trend is especially notable in the inclusion of functional ingredients like prebiotics and probiotics that improve gut health. Other examples include vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and avocados that are high in antioxidants known to fight diseases.
Comfort is King
Americans love snack foods, but in 2024 and beyond, snacking and grazing will continue to be acceptable alternatives to formal meals. While some of this shift away from regular meals can be explained by busy schedules, it may also be due to the desire for the sense of comfort and relaxation associated with these foods. Additionally, social media influencers have made “girl dinner” and relaxing nights at home a new normal that anyone can connect to. During the year to come, more and more food manufacturers will be offering new snack-type foods that are actually healthy and substantive enough to meet nutritional needs.
Just as snacking can bring comfort, foods in general are being seen more and more as mechanisms for experiencing pleasure and reducing stress. Part of this is seen in the emphasis on convenience foods and ready meals, but it can also be seen in “little treat culture” that is all about small food items that are visually appealing (and thus Instagram-worthy) and luxurious that you can use to treat yourself. And even though this often involves sugary indulgences, there are also healthier options like strawberries dipped in yogurt or kale chips and roasted beet hummus.
In the past year, as we have gotten further from the restrictions of the COVID era, Americans have begun traveling for pleasure again. This looks to continue in 2024, but that also means an overall uptick in interest in global ingredients and international cuisine. And one of the focal points of this interes is peppers and other spicy foods. Along with Latin American classics like chipotle and jalapeno peppers, there has also been a rise in less known options like Calabrian chili peppers from Italy. Moreover, other sources of spice, like wasabi, saffron, and even cinnamon are likely to show up in many different kinds of food.
Every year more Americans are becoming mindful of food production processes and their impact on the environment. Companies will continue to respond in 2024 in part by using different kinds of ingredients; buckwheat, for instance, is a protein and fiber-rich seed that is produced sustainably and is useful in a variety of applications. Also, certain fruits and vegetables like berries, apples, cabbage, onions, and potatoes are easier to grow with sustainable practices. While consumers will always be largely motivated by other factors like flavor and price, foods that are produced with the environment in mind are likely to be favored in the years to come.
On Top of the Trends
Americans will never stop looking forward to new products that come out each year, and food production companies must always be innovating in order to stay relevant. With access to the best growers around the world and a state-of-the-art facility and production process, Silva is poised to provide the best ingredients for these exciting new recipes. If you’d like to learn more about partnering with Silva and how we can help you deliver the best products for your customers, please contact us today to speak with a member of our team.