KeHE Distributors, a distributor of natural and organic, specialty and fresh products in North America, has identified its top seven macro trends in the food and beverage industry for 2024, and fresh produce has the potential to play a role in each one.
Experts from KeHE identified seven predicted trends for the coming year, leveraging their expertise in tracking consumer shopping behaviors, consumer data and innovative products, according to a news release.
“Natural and organic, specialty and fresh products remain relevant as consumers have become more environmentally aware and health-conscious,” Westly Weaver, director of customer insights and growth solutions for KeHE, said in the release. “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.”
KeHE’s 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, KeHE says. Not only are consumers concerned with their personal health, but also that 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 are not 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 marketing research firm 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 they try to act in a way that is not harmful to the environment, and 42% of Generation 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 states that 85% of consumers indicated 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 around health and wellness, consumers are seeking foods that are rich in essential nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals to prevent chronic disease and illness.