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The future of food & drink: 2024 trends

Consumer’s attitudes and needs constantly shift – and the food and drink sector must consistently innovate and adapt to stay relevant. Whether it’s artificial intelligence, the newest TikTok trend or an increased fixation on health and wellness, brands should be aware of current and forecasted trends and consumer behaviours to ensure stay ahead of the curve, stand out against competitors, and resonate with their target audiences.  

With this in mind, we look at key trends expected to impact the food and drink industry in 2024. 

Technology will streamline meal planning, shopping and cooking

Artificial intelligence in the food and drink market was valued at $7bn in 2023 and is set to reach $35.42bn in 2028. Whether it’s designing, developing and branding a low-sugar fizzy drink in just two days, or creating a vegan ‘fat ‘ ingredient containing 90% less saturated fat, AI is being used to address a variety of food and drink issues ranging from healthcare to sustainability. 

Convenience is also front of mind for consumers, with 47% saying the time it takes to make dinner prevents them cooking at home more often. Again, brands are looking to AI to address this – Seergrills, a UK start-up which applies AI and advanced technologies to specifically improve cooking, developed an AI powered grill that can cook perfect steak in 90-seconds.  

Effectively communicating a product’s efficiencies will therefore be increasingly paramount, with consumers responding well to tips and tricks that can be easily and quickly digested, and perhaps more importantly, trusted. In turn, brands need to stay up to date with the latest tech to show they are innovators in this space and ensure they don’t get left behind – as AI and AR grow in use, it’s important for brands to consider how to utilise this technology to satisfy consumer pain points.  

Debunking ‘old’ stigmas and extending consumers’ healthy years

Gen X (born between 1965 and 1979) are pioneering a new approach to healthy ageing that includes products that will help them thrive in their diverse lifestyles now, and for decades to come. It’s crucial that brands understand and focus on this increasingly powerful audience group, who account for a significant share of food and drink spend globally.  

Brands can tap into this demographic by personalising their PR strategies to speak to these target audiences, whether that be through commissioning research which explores different needs of the population, offering education sessions on how their food and drink products can help people in this category (e.g. they’re nutrient-rich or support with joint health) or working with influencers who speak to a 40+ audience and are able to increase awareness about the product USPs people in that demographic will care about most. 

Increased awareness around ultra-processed food & drink

Next year will also see increased scrutiny over the processing of food and drink. 34% of adults say highly processed is a top concern—aside from price and taste—when purchasing consumables. This will lead to people looking more closely at ingredients and nutritional value, with many reconsidering how often they consume processed food and drinks.  

Clear communication and transparency will therefore be key for brands to ensure customers feel informed and are able to trust them. But, with ultra-processed food making up over half of the UK’s shopping baskets, expect this to be a crowded space!  

On the one hand, there will be an opportunity for brands in this space to educate consumers as to how they can still enjoy their favourite food responsibly whilst also maintaining a healthy diet. On the other, you may want to find creative ways to reinforce to consumers the joy and comfort they feel from these products – which will not only help to stabilise consumer demand, but provide continued talkability for media and help pique interest against competitors who are using the same tactic. 

If you’re a food or drink business and would like to discuss your communications plans for 2024, get in touch with our award-winning team today.

Get in touch with the team