Natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products remain relevant as consumers have become more environmentally aware and health-conscious.
KeHE Distributors has identified the top macro trends in the food and beverage industry to inform retailers’ product selections for 2024. Experts from KeHE identified seven predicted trends for the coming year, leveraging their expertise in tracking consumer shopping behaviors, consumer data and innovative products.
“Natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products remain relevant as consumers have become more environmentally aware and health-conscious,” said Westly Weaver, director of customer insights and growth solutions at KeHE. “We look forward to seeing the innovative and forward-thinking products that brands will bring to the food and beverage space to align with new consumer preferences.”
The seven key food and beverage market macro trends for 2024:
Better for Us: There has been an identifiable behavioral shift in consumers as they have become invested in health at an earlier age than before. Not only are consumers concerned with their personal health, but also the health of those within their care, including children and pets. This is leading to an investment in household staples, specifically food that is clean label, organic certified, free-from and nutrient-dense.
Redefined Convenience: The meaning of convenience has evolved in the lives of customers as consumers have stopped trying to stay out of the kitchen or eat on the go, and instead are trying to become more efficient in their cooking. To that point, according to Mintel, 72% of consumers say that heat-and-eat prepared meals are a great way to try new foods and flavors.
Seeking Sustainability: According to Mintel, about 75% of consumers say that they try to act in a way that is not harmful to the environment, and 42% of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers say that sustainability and environmental claims are more important than price. As a result, products with “better-for-the-planet” packaging options are on the rise.
Influenced Foods: Influencers use their social media platforms to create food trends, encouraging younger consumers in particular to try celebrity-backed brands and cuisines. This is leading to an increase in social media-inspired food choices, global cuisines and exciting flavors.
Finding Functionality: Consumers are more frequently turning to food as a means of achieving their health-and-wellness goals, with a focus on energy, gut health, immunity, cognitive health and hydration. In fact, Mintel noted that 85% of consumers indicate that they currently look to eat or drink products that contain specific functional ingredients that offer distinct health benefits.
The Real Deal: Consumers are moving toward the “real deal” as social media and accessible nutritional information have increased appreciation for ingredient choice and quality. Rather than limiting indulgences or foods that can be perceived as less healthy, the consumer mindset is shifting to a search for quality ingredients that include real dairy, real sweeteners, and quality meats and cheeses.
Nutrient-Focused Consumers: Due to the increased awareness of health and wellness, consumers are seeking foods that are rich in essential nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals to prevent chronic disease and illness.
Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE is the largest pure-play distributor of natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products, serving more than 31,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers, and other specialty product retailers throughout North America. With 6,800-plus employee-owners, KeHE is a Certified B Corporation.