Want to make a meaningful impact in the food and beverage industry? Then you need to do more than adapt – you need to innovate. Thriving in this dynamic sector means grasping the consumer trends and behaviours set to shape the market in 2024, and beyond. As the leading marketing communications agency for brands in the food and drink space, we’ve curated a wrap-up of the top trends and actionable insights powering innovation in this field. Drawing knowledge from some of the biggest global trade shows, market intelligence and research agencies, the 5 insights below are guaranteed to help you stay ahead of the curve and navigate this ever-evolving landscape with confidence.
Read on to feast your senses…
1. A growing appetite for less processed foods
The scrutiny surrounding processed products is intensifying, driving consumers to ask more questions about the ingredients, nutrition and production methods used to develop the foods and drinks they’re consuming. This has led to the emergence of the concept “ultra-processed food (UPF)” – an evolution of the terms “junk food” and “clean label”. This newfound awareness of UPF is steering consumer preferences towards minimally processed foods, or at the least, they are considering processing levels when purchasing products. But don’t stress! It’s not the end of UPFs just yet. Some consumers are taking an “all things in moderation approach” and still want to enjoy these foods – albeit less frequently.
To get ahead of this trend, our top tips are:
- Enhance your transparency (i.e., labelling) around processing.
- Focus on the positive aspects of processing techniques to appeal to consumers – like those that enhance nutrition, inhibit contaminants during storage or boost sustainability.
- If you’re an UPF brand, remind consumers of the joy and comfort they get from consuming your products. It’s all about how you communicate.
- Ever thought of using upcycled ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, fibres, protein and other nutrients? This involves repurposing by-products or materials that might otherwise be discarded during food production. An example is using fruit and vegetable pulps leftover from juicing in plant-based burgers or additives in baking goods. There is growing interest in companies that adopt this idea because it demonstrates a commitment to reducing waste and environmental impact.
79% Chinese consumers (aged 50-60) say eating less processed foods is a very/somewhat effective way to improve health.1
34% US adults say highly processed food is a top concern when purchasing food or drink – after price and taste.1
2. A new chapter for nutrition as we age
Generation X – i.e., those in their mid-40s-to-late-50s – are pioneering a new approach to healthy ageing. They want products that will help them thrive (not just survive) in their diverse lifestyles now and for decades to come. For this generation, it’s all about prevention and taking personal responsibility for health as they age. Food and beverage brands that promote healthy aging, proactively address joint health, fuel fitness regimes and maintain healthy sleep routines will be the rising stars here – and will stand out from other products in the market.
More than 1/3 consumers want to be more proactive about maintaining good health. 1
3. Taking convenience to new levels – the digital diet
A new world of convenience is emerging – one where technology streamlines meal planning, shopping and cooking. Convenience has always been important to consumers, but the post-pandemic era has accelerated desires for even better shortcuts to quality food and drink experiences. This is evidenced by the rise in tech-aided health monitoring apps which enable real-time health reviews and tailored solutions that cater to individuals’ specific needs and goals.
Don’t get left behind in the past. Here’s some measures that you can take to step into the future of digital nutrition:
- Capitalise on artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).
- Collaborate with technology providers to optimise product advertising. It’s predicted that marketing will shift from targeted ads to an evolved form of product placement, where AI, AR and other recipe generators will suggest specific brands that align with consumers’ personalised meal planning.
- Tap into the data these interactions create to develop products inspired by consumer feedback or engagement.
28% global consumers say they have made greater efforts to use apps to monitor their diet and lifestyle.2
4. Highlight a bond with nature
Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of food production – and they want producers to adopt more resourceful practices to help them make more sustainable product choices. Initiatives like upcycled ingredients and regenerative farming are gaining appeal due to their ability to address food waste, for example.
That being said… while consumers acknowledge the urgency of the clinical crisis, sustainability claims alone will not drive purchasing decisions. Cost, specifically, is still predicted be a barrier. To overcome this, food and beverage brands should make sure to highlight the added value of choosing their environmentally developed products, especially if they are a bit more expensive than others on the market.
When was the last time you asked yourself ‘How is my company nurturing nature’?
If you have the answer, how exactly are you communicating this to consumers? Ensure that sustainability messages are clear, easily accessible and understandable for consumers. Using simple language and avoiding greenwashing – i.e., exaggerated or misleading sustainability claims – is a must for building and maintaining consumer trust.
8 in 10 global consumers would trust a company more in they were using regenerative farming.2
5. Good mood food
In the face of rising prices and a fast-paced world, mental and emotional wellness is front of mind for most individuals. As a result, more consumers are actively searching for ways to improve their mood – including through nutrition. There is a growing awareness of the link between our dietary habits and mental wellbeing, with research demonstrating that certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, can positively impact mood and also cognitive function. With this in mind, a growing number of consumers are seeking foods and beverages rich in nutrients associated with boosted mental wellbeing.
This trend has already led to a surge in functional foods, supplements and superfoods marketed for their potential mental health benefits – and is paving the way for even more innovation… So, if you want to win the hearts (and minds) of consumers, you might want to play in this space.
57% global consumers say they have looked to improve their mental wellbeing in the past year.3
These are just some of the trends transforming the face of the food and drink industry. If you’d like to delve deeper into the details of these insights or explore how BDB can help you unlock sales and marketing opportunities on a global scale through impactful communications – we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today.