Selection of traditional greek food - salad, meze, pie, fish, tzatziki, dolma on wood background, top view

Five food trends we’ll be looking out for at Food & Drink Expo 2024

It’s been a difficult period in the world of grocery, with purse strings tightening as inflation has impacted households across the UK. However, the recent news about the rate of grocery inflation falling to a 30-month low is cause for some cautious optimism. With the latest Kantar data indicating that sales of branded groceries are now growing faster than own-label, now is an exciting time for the industry – with space for innovation opening up and offering the promise of incremental growth for brands. 

With the Food & Drink Expo coming up (29 April – 1 May 2024), we take a look at the emerging trends we’ll be looking out for at one of the industry’s biggest calendar events.

The future of plant-based 

2024’s show boasts designated areas, with the Plant-Based Zone a new addition for 2024. The plant-based category has experienced a downturn in recent years, with a report in January 2024 which revealed barriers to purchase plant-based products predicting that “companies will need to have a strategy to expand market share and diversify product portfolios”. With diversification at the forefront and the industry at a crossroads, we’ll be on the lookout for boundary-pushing NPD and attending the session on ‘Where next for plant-based?’ to hear how some of the leading brands in the space (Better Nature Tempeh and THIS) are tackling the category’s challenges. 

Healthy eating 

With an area dedicated to ‘Healthy & Natural’ at the 2024 Expo and consumers flocking to food with added health benefits, there is a plethora of brands showcasing their hero products which sit within a booming sector.  

Gut health is one of the headline food trends for 2024, with Waitrose reporting a 44% uplift in kimchi sales and Olive magazine asserting that gut-friendly food and drink like kombucha, kefir and kimchi have become fridge staples in many households. From fermented foods with functional benefits to innovative kombucha flavour profiles, we’ll be looking at how brands are capitalising on consumer interest in probiotics. 


Recent data revealed that consumers are willing to spend on treats (offsetting the cost by making savings on the basics) – and that upmarket grocers M&S and Ocado are the only retailers to win new shoppers in the past three months. All of this could point towards an appetite for premium snacks from consumers in 2024 – even better if they can also be classified as healthy. From the likes of health-conscious high-protein chocolate snacks from Knack Snacks and organic raw chocolate from Ombar to sustainable snacks delivered to your door by One Good Thing, we are keen to see how brands are innovating for health-conscious snackers. 

Spicy flavour profiles and “nuanced heat” 

The Grocer spotlighted spicy table sauces at the end of 2023 as consumers were seeking affordable alternatives to spicy, flavour-packed takeaways or restaurant food, with sales of hot sauce in Waitrose up 55%. But how is the consumer’s taste for spice evolving in 2024? The desire for spice shows no signs of waning, however The Week reported that “the trend for pure ‘brain-exploding’ spicy heat in restaurants and supermarkets is expected to cool this year in favour of a more complex flavour” – meaning we expect to see innovation in the direction of sweet, smoky, sour, umami and aromatic. 


Hospitality food trends are often a great indicator of what’s to come for grocery. According to The Grocer, more than three quarters of UK consumers prefer British ingredients, identifying this as make-or-break when eating out. What’s more, consumers are often willing to pay more for food where there’s an assurance of strong provenance, creating space for smaller, local food brands to make their mark in grocery. To name just a few, exhibitors at this year’s show include artisan cheese makers The Cornish Cheese Co, 100% British oil brand Hillfarm Oils and Somerset-based artisan butter producer Sublime, representing a presence of brands from across the country championing the best of British produce. 

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