Staying ahead of consumer preferences is key for both brands and healthcare professionals. We joined Mintel’s recent 2024 Consumer Food and Drink Trends webinar (see the full report here) to share with you the four emerging trends of 2024: ultra-processed foods, healthy aging, climate change, and technology. Keep reading to discover what consumers are thinking about going into 2024, how we think these trends will be relevant for our clients, and our suggested ways to incorporate them into your 2024 strategy. 

 Ultra-Processed Foods 

Concerns around the health impacts of ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are rising faster in the European, Middle East, and African (EMEA) markets than in the US and Canada. 70-85% of select European markets say they try to avoid UPFs, but 55% of US and CA consumers believe that highly processed food and drinks are fine in moderation as part of a balanced diet.  

 Mintel’s 2024 Prediction: Consumers will continue to purchase processed foods due to their affordability and convenience. However, a bigger push for change is on the horizon as consumers become more aware of the different levels of processing and the potential health impacts. 

 Eat Well Global’s POV: Take the time now to educate your customers on what processing means, how foods are processed, and the nutritional impact of different levels of processing.  Conduct a baseline HCP perception survey to understand how HCPs educate and communicate with consumers on the topic of processed foods to identify opportunities for messaging and education. 

Climate Change  

The rising cost of living is causing consumers to deprioritize sustainability in their food and beverage purchasing decisions. However, consumers still expect brands to take the lead in addressing environmental issues. 

Mintel’s 2024 Prediction: Brands should maintain sustainability efforts without compromising taste and cost. Consumers will demand transparency around sustainability efforts from companies and may push for a standardized labeling system. As climate crises messaging continues, consumers are likely to stop responding to eco-messages and instead will turn to familiar foods and drinks for comfort. 

Eat Well Global’s POV: Remember that authenticity around your brand’s missions and values is key. Effectively communicating your sustainability efforts in a way that resonates with your consumers reassures them that they can continue buying the products they already know and love. Host a KOL event or exhibit at a nutrition professional conference to showcase your brand’s sustainability initiatives. 

Healthy Aging 

Gen X (ages 44-58) is driving the market to focus on proactive health solutions and functional food and drinks for healthy aging. Products addressing menopause, sleep health, and dual caregiving responsibilities are gaining focus.  

 Mintel’s 2024 Prediction: This trend will likely continue with Millennials and Gen Z who may come into the market with expectations that healthy aging products and solutions are readily available. 

 Eat Well Global’s POV: As consumer interest on the topic of healthy aging grows, so too will questions to their trusted healthcare providers.  To stay relevant and informed in the eyes of their patient/client audiences, HCPs will look for credible science-based education on this topic. Partner with one or more experts to create evidence-based content pieces (i.e. videos, webinars, or infographics) that connect your brand to topics such as sleep, cognition, and stress.  

Technology and AI Impact 

COVID-19 has accelerated consumers’ interest in cooking from home. However, consumers still seek outside sources that help with the time, energy, and brain power needed for meal planning and cooking. 

Mintel’s 2024 Prediction: Consumers’ need for efficiency will drive the adoption of technology such as AI-powered recipe generators. AI will soon go from nice-to-have to integral for planning tools.  

Eat Well Global’s POV: AI isn’t just a 2023 buzzword – its influence will only continue to grow into 2024 and beyond; it will be especially useful in improving efficiency and convenience in the food space. Take the time now to understand your customers' pain points in meal planning, prepping, and cooking so that you can develop AI-supported products and service offerings to make getting a healthy meal on the table as easy as possible. Try a social listening tool, to better understand what your customers’ current meal planning challenges are. 

Next Steps for Brands 
While being mindful of these global consumer trends is directionally helpful, it’s critical to understand the perspective of your unique target audiences, the messaging they receive from trusted sources, and how all these elements impact your unique business goals. As you dive into your 2024 planning, reach out to our team to see how our insights experts can help your brand stay ahead of the curve.  

Click here to learn about Eat Well Global’s top 7 ways to gather actionable insights