A recent 2023 beverage showed how Gen Y and millennials' recognition of high-quality ingredients and sustainable practices can be perceived as better-tasting drink products. In general, large swaths of consumers want nutrition and simple ingredients, but research from Innova Market Insights, “Top Ten Food and Drink Trends for 2024,” reinforces these consumer behaviors. The Innova research also reveals psychographic behavior that can help brand owners market products in new ways in 2024.

As food manufacturers know, familiarity with food products can establish brand loyalty, and while protein products are making inroads, they can be a tough conversion for older demographics. "A third of the consumers we polled said they respond positively to certain key ingredients being flagged up," explains Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Netherlands-based Innova. “This may be for reasons of flavor or texture, for example, or other positive associations—not purely because of any better-for-you benefits.”

Innova’s number one trend from the research, called “Taking the Spotlight,” shows that “42% of consumers said 'protein' was the most important ingredient, while main meals featuring mushrooms (or specific mushroom types) as an ingredient grew 12% year-on-year between 2018 and 2023.”

Research by Innova Market Insights
Research by Innova Market Insights shows that highlighting eye-catching ingredients can inspire consumer spending on food and beverage. Image courtesy of Innova Market Insights

While favorite and well-known ingredients take the number one spot, “Nurturing Nature” ranks number two. This trend is essential as packaging sustainability claims are still crucial to consumers, and so is food waste. Consumer research conducted by Do Good Foods in September 2022 reveals that “Americans want to be more climate friendly, and nearly half are more concerned about food waste than they were a year ago.” Food waste is a critical component in reducing greenhouse gasses (GHG) and could help food companies market new products if 2025 packaging reduction goals aren’t met.

Over the last four years, the report shows an astonishing annual increase by 40% in food and drink products making some sort of water usage claim. "From regenerative agriculture to farming conditions for livestock, brands which highlight a bond with nature and the environment are achieving cut-through with consumers," Williams says.

Leverage Familiar Products

As mentioned, familiarity with food makes transitions to new products more accessible. The fourth trend is “Plant-based: The Rise of Applied Offerings,” which includes the move toward plant-based foods with familiar and convenient recipes and formats.

"Time-saving ready meals are serving up increasing numbers of popular dishes in alternative vegan or vegetarian versions, such as lentil lasagna," she says. "There is a clear message coming through to brands and retailers that, while some consumers don't eat meat at all, many more are happy to eat less of it."

According to Innova’s research, “there’s been 8% annual growth in ready meals and sides making 'plant-based' or 'vegan' claims, between 2020 and 2023.”

The full top ten report from Innova was released on November 16 via a webinar, and below is the entire list of the top ten food and beverage trends for 2024:

  1. Taking the Spotlight
  2. Nurturing Nature
  3. Prioritizing Prevention
  4. Plant-based: The Rise of Applied Offerings
  5. Local Goes Global
  6. Home Kitchen Heroes
  7. Indulging in Health
  8. Oceans of Possibilities
  9. H2O: Quenching the Possibilities
  10. Minimizing the Noise