Around this time of year a barrage of predictions about food, health and nutrition trends is unleashed. In fact, there are so many predictions ricocheting around, it’s hard separating genuinely significant trends – those with the power to disrupt business as usual – from the fanciful. So let’s look at some of the most interesting of this year’s predictions from Protein in Motion to Mushroom Mania, Plant-based Diversity to Nurturing Nature.
While some of these trends are already established in the health food channel, these predictions can be helpful in confirming where the biggest growth opportunities lie for specialists already embracing them.
We’ll start with the big picture, courtesy of consumer research giant Mintel. In its 2024 Global Food and Drink Trends report, Mintel identifies three big ideas that capture a whole lot of innovative thinking about food, health and sustainability. First up is what it calls Trust the Process. This refers to the increasing desire from consumers to know about where and how their food is made and processed (particularly in light of the latest research about the negative health effects of ultra-processed food). Mintel’s second big trend is Age Reframed, where there is a new emphasis on extending consumers’ healthy years and a sharper focus on the pivotal role that good nutrition has to play in achieving this. Eating, Optimised is how Mintel describes the growing role of apps and AI in helping consumers meet their personal health and nutrition goals.
Wellness focused brand agency NADA drills down into some of the specific nutrition trends that are likely to take centre stage in the coming year. Top predictions for 2024 include Plant-based Diversity (where a “wider variety of plant-based protein sources, including lesser-known legumes, grains” are added to the growing plant-based offer), Mental Wellbeing Diets (reflecting growing awareness and connection between nutrition and mental health) Regenerative Agriculture(consumers seeking out products that support soil health, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration) and Microbiome-Friendly Foods (already big trend in the specialist health food trade, and one that is set to get bigger).
Innova Market Insights meanwhile says its number one trend for 2024 is Taking the Spotlight, a phrase it uses to describe the way consumers will actively search for a particular ‘star ingredient’ in a food product. It places Nurturing Nature in second place (recognising consumer expectations that food should produced in harmony with nature), while Prioritising Prevention (proactively maintaining good health) takes third place.
Retailers are also keen to share their health and wellness trend predictions. Promoting Women’s Health (“expect an increasing offer of specially formulated bars and snacks for cycle health, like menopause energy bars and other functional treats” and Clean Caffeine (energy drinks with added mushrooms, adaptogens and probiotics that avert a caffeine crash) are both flagged by Whole Foods Market. US natural food retailer Fresh Thyme Market meanwhile highlightsSustainable Solutions (certified upcycled and regenerative organic products for example) and Protein in Motion(reflecting the high demand for grab-and-go sports nutrition products, particularly those with a flavour-forward plant-based emphasis). Mushroom Mania meanwhile acknowledges the deepening trend of including mushrooms and other fungi in food and supplements.