Top Food Trends of 2024

The foodservice landscape of 2024 is being influenced by various factors such as inflation, the growing demand for healthier food choices, and the increasing need for sustainable dining options. In this era, customers seek either convenience or an exceptional dining experience that surpasses what they can create at home. To help you keep your menu up-to-date and appealing, we will guide you through the latest product and flavor trends of 2024.

elk stew meat

Upscaling Cheaper Cuts of Meat

Chefs are getting creative with cheap meat cuts, turning them into gourmet dishes that are both delicious and cost-effective. From braised beef cheeks to slow-cooked pork belly, these affordable cuts are being transformed into culinary masterpieces. Additionally, organ meats like liver and heart are making a comeback, adding a unique and flavorful twist to dishes. By utilizing these budget-friendly options, restaurants can offer their customers high-quality meals at a fraction of the cost.

vegan jackfruit and rice

Simplifying Plant-Based Foods

As consumers continue to prioritize their health, there is a noticeable shift away from highly processed meat alternatives towards whole food plant-based choices. Think veggie burgers crafted from real vegetables rather than containing a lengthy list of unfamiliar ingredients. Embrace this trend by introducing distinctive menu items that utilize whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plant-based ingredients. From creamy mushroom stroganoff to hearty grain bowls, these dishes meet the rising demand for healthier and more sustainable options.

vegetables being harvested

Ethical and Transparent Sourcing

Each year consumers become increasingly more conscious about their dietary choices and the health of the environment. They are seeking greater transparency when it comes to the ingredients in their food, the origins of their meals, and the sustainability of their food choices. With economic considerations in mind, many individuals feel the need to justify every purchase they make. Consequently, they are more inclined to pay more for brands that openly prioritize supply chain transparency, sustainably sourced ingredients, and nutritional products over those that don't share any information.

olive oil

Seed Oil-Free Products

When it comes to making healthier choices in our diets, many consumers are now paying closer attention to the types of oils used in their favorite foods. In recent years, seed oils have come under scrutiny due to their inflammatory properties. As a result, more and more people are becoming interested in what oil restaurants use to fry their products and what oil brands use in their packaged foods. Seed oil-free tortillas, chips, snacks, and condiments are now becoming a huge selling point for health-conscious individuals who want to avoid the potential negative effects of seed oils.

cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, berries, and nuts

Snacks as Meals

With busy schedules and a desire for convenience, consumers are looking for snacks that are not only tasty but also filling and nutritious. Inspired by the “girl dinner” and “adult Lunchables” trends on TikTok, many have started replacing formal meals, especially lunch, with an assortment of snacks. Restaurants can capitalize on this trend by offering to-go snack boxes complete with protein, vegetables, fruit, and chips paired with sweet and savory dips. Think charcuterie on the go!

tuna steaks on tortilla wrap with corn

Cultural Flavor Fusion

This trend involves creating dishes that blend together different cultural flavors for unexpected and exciting flavor pairings. With consumers becoming more adventurous and open-minded when it comes to food, they are using their meals as a way to explore different cultures and cuisines. From Korean tacos to Indian-inspired pizzas, chefs and food enthusiasts are embracing the fusion of diverse culinary traditions.

buckwheat bowl

Ancient Grains

We can expect to see a surge in the use of ancient grains as key ingredients in grain bowls, baked goods, and gluten-free foods. While buckwheat is predicted to be the "it" grain of the year, other types of ancient grains like millet, amaranth, and teff will also gain popularity. Consumers are increasingly seeking out biodiversity in their food choices and are turning away from traditional wheat-based products. These ancient grains not only offer unique flavors and textures but also boast impressive nutritional profiles.

lavender bubble tea

Floral Flavors

From lavender and rose to hibiscus and elderflower, botanical flavors have long been revered for their medicinal properties while delivering a delicate, earthy flavor and natural sweetness to recipes. Floral flavors are particularly trending with coffee and tea, and have begun to make their way onto more cocktail menus. Bartenders are experimenting with floral-infused spirits and liqueurs to create unique and fragrant concoctions garnished with edible flowers. In the culinary space, floral flavors are bringing a whimsical and romantic touch to baked goods, bread, honey, jams, and ice cream.

What Can We Take Away from This Year's Food Trends?

In all of these emerging food trends, there are a few general takeaways that you should keep in mind when updating your menu.

Inflation Continues to Have a Major Influence on Food Trends

As prices rise, people are becoming more conscious of their spending and are looking for ways to stretch their dollar. They are opting for more cost-effective options when dining out, such as choosing restaurants that offer affordable menus or seeking out promotions and discounts. They are also justifying a high price tag if a brand is sustainable and aligns with their values or if a restaurant offers unique, global-inspired dishes and drinks they perceive as a luxury and an experience.

Inflation is also driving a renewed interest in local and seasonal ingredients. As the cost of transporting food across long distances increases, consumers are looking for ways to support local businesses and reduce their carbon footprint. Restaurants can capitalize on this trend by sourcing ingredients from local farmers and highlighting the use of seasonal produce in their dishes. Not only does this appeal to environmentally conscious customers, but it also allows restaurants to showcase the freshest and most flavorful ingredients available.

Plant-Based Options Continue to Grow

The plant-based food market has been experiencing significant growth in recent years, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2024. As traditional meat prices continue to climb and sustainability continues to be a driving purchasing factor, consumers are exploring alternative sources of protein that are affordable but also offer a range of health and environmental benefits. An area within the plant-based food market that continues to see significant growth is plant-based seafood options. As consumers become more mindful of sustainability and the impact of overfishing in our oceans, they are seeking out alternatives to traditional seafood.

Moreover, consumers are becoming more conscious of the ingredients and processing methods used in their food. They are increasingly looking for less-processed plant-based options that offer a healthier alternative to heavily processed foods.

Food trends are in constant fluctuation with the state of the economy and social media outlets like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Craft your menu in the coming year to pique your customers' interests and keep up with the developing food trends of 2024! Check out restaurant industry statistics for a broader picture of the of the foodservice industry.

Posted in: Foodservice Trends|By Kayla Nelson
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