Top 10 Food and Beverage Trends 2024
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Not dissimilar from the fashion industry, the food and beverage space lives and dies by trends. Of course, there will always be the timeless staples––denim is to fashion as steakhouses are to the culinary scene. At the same time, there will be trends that disappear quicker than they appeared. Nonetheless, it’s important for restaurant owners and food brands to keep their finger on the pulse.
Over the past year, we’ve witnessed a paradigm shift in the restaurant industry, and global consumers are now more eager than ever to support their favorite eateries. In 2022, restaurants nationwide are expected to hit nearly $900 billion in sales, up from less than $800 billion in 2021.
Diners, though, have different needs and wants than before. Health and sustainability within the food and beverage industry are in greater demand than ever, and it’s important for restaurants to take notice. Here are the top food and beverage trends in 2022 and beyond.
1. Plant-based foods
Vegetarianism and veganism are far from new phenomena. That said, the rise of this consumer trend for plant-based meat alternatives is impossible to ignore, making it one of the foremost emerging food and beverage trends.
While only 3% of U.S. adults identify as vegan, a very slight increase from 2% in 2012, the word “vegan” is the second-most searched snack term on the internet and seventh-most searched across grocery shopping websites. Even though only a small number of people are strictly vegan, trends suggest that a greater amount of omnivorous people desire plant-based options.
Demand for plant-based food increased by 12% between 2020 and 2021; at the same time, demand for meat alternatives jumped 11%. People want these options, yet it remains largely neglected. In grocery stores, “vegan” is unclaimed 67% of the time. This puts eateries that boast their plant-based options in an advantageous position.
Plant-based alternatives extend far past just meat, though. One of the hottest plant-based alternatives of the moment is cauliflower. Often used as a low-carb gluten alternative, cauliflower can be used to make pizza crusts, rice, and mashed potatoes.
2. Responsible sourcing
Consumers are more mindful than ever, often looking at food as a way of reducing their impact on the planet. This goes beyond just base diet, like veganism or vegetarianism, instead extending to such factors as humane treatment and carbon footprint. Some common factors that mindful consumers are looking for when choosing food brands include:
- Biobased and Biodegradable Food Delivery Packaging
- Eco-Friendly Certified
- Reef Safe
- Fair Trade
- Sustainable Farming
There are many ways in which restaurant owners can introduce responsible sourcing into their businesses. Many coffee shops, for example, find it important to roast Fair Trade Certified coffee beans. One of the most discussed trends is paper straws and utensils. Mindful consumers like to support businesses that can reduce their dependence on plastic.
3. Alcohol-free beverages
In recent years, alcohol consumption has risen, resulting in a 6% increase in the alcohol beverage market. However, this increase in indulgence has led to something of an overcorrection. Now, movements like Sober October and Dry January are hot trends.
While nearly 34% of American adults are sober, an additional 20% are sober-curious, opening up a large market for restaurants with nonalcoholic options. By including alcohol-free drinks like mocktails and nonalcoholic beer, sober and sober-curious diners can enjoy a drink without feeling left out.
4. Coffee alternatives
From oat milk lattes to iced americanos, coffee is a daily ritual for 58% of Americans. However, similar to how Americans are cutting down on alcohol consumption, many are also looking to reduce their caffeine dependency.
Coffee alternatives are far from a new concept. Such products as green tea, matcha, and kombucha have all had, or are continuing to have their moments. That said, coffee alternatives, such as green tea and matcha, typically have caffeine. While there are caffeine-free versions of just about any caffeine-heavy drink, consumer behavior indicates that there is a shift towards wanting something new altogether.
Golden Milk is one of the trendiest caffeine-free beverages. With a base of warm plant or animal-based milk, Golden Milk boasts the many health benefits of turmeric, its main spice, as well as other spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom.
Spicy teas, such as ginger-turmeric and peppermint, offer a range of health benefits that many consumers find appealing. By offering some caffeine-free options, you can keep your business a part of caffeine-cutters’ daily routines.
5. Over-the-top desserts
Moving in the opposite direction of our previous entries, one of the top trends to look out for is indulgent, over-the-top desserts. People have loved and always will love dessert, so this isn’t necessarily new.
What is new, however, are the Instagram-worthy presentations with which these desserts are taking shape.
A prime example of this trend transforming a restaurant is New York City’s Black Tap. While burgers and beer are on the menu, people line up around the block for their otherworldly milkshakes. With some shakes including entire slices of cake on top, Black Tap is often trending on social media. Spectacles like this can make your restaurant a hub for locals and tourists alike.
6. Authentic cuisines
Especially when it comes to food, authenticity is highly sought-after by global consumers. There is a greater desire than ever to experience other cultures, and food presents consumers with that opportunity in their own backyard.
Especially in bigger cities, many diners are replacing fast food with authentic alternatives. Small, family-owned restaurants are also in the zeitgeist, giving diners the feeling of an authentic, home-cooked meal.
Following the pandemic, when travel was restricted and dining options limited, people are more eager than ever to find new flavors and expressions. Food from uncommon cuisines is now highly sought-after as a means of experiencing something new and real.
Similar to responsible sourcing, consumers want to know the ethics behind the products they’re supporting and putting in their bodies. Part of this is a desire for transparency about the supply chain and manufacturing processes for such products. By offering this level of transparency, your restaurant will be set apart from the rest.
A commonly desired piece of information is the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). By indicating which items on your menu are non-GMO, you’d help conscious customers pick something fit for their lifestyle and likely draw them back for repeat business. Such transparency is simple and does not often go unnoticed.
Before you begin menu engineering, you’ll want to ensure that your menu is as transparent as possible and work with transparent suppliers. Many CPG manufacturers use QR codes that provide information about specific products. By working with transparent suppliers, you can not only create a more mindful menu but also help answer the questions of your customers.
8. Mood-enhancing beverages
Building on the alcohol-free trend, mood-enhancing beverages are rising in popularity. These beverages provide a feeling of relaxation or comfort––something that 25% of consumers seek in their food and beverage choices.
Warm, functional beverages are usually the go-tos in this category, as well as ingredients like ginseng, MCTs, and maca. Butter coffee is growing in popularity, which includes brewed coffee, unsalted butter, and MCTs.
9. Health-focused desserts
People will always love to indulge; however, it’s no secret that people are more health-conscious than ever. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly common for diners to skip the dessert menu altogether. By introducing some healthy options on the dessert menu, you can keep those sales from being lost.
Avocado is a very trendy ingredient, and its creamy texture and neutral taste lends itself to tasty desserts. Avocado ice cream, for example, is a dessert that’s sure to attract health-conscious diners. Creating a “healthy” menu item is less about health than it is about reducing the guilt of indulgence. By highlighting one or two healthy ingredients, you can transform your dessert menu.
10. Ghost kitchens
As one of the newest concepts in the restaurant industry, ghost kitchens are a rapidly growing trend that some predict will become a trillion-dollar industry by 2023. A ghost kitchen business model is completely virtual, reducing the overhead associated with dining rooms, waitstaff, parking, and other customer-facing needs associated with restaurants.
Instead, they take advantage of the $150 billion food delivery industry, delivering directly to the diners’ doors.
One of the primary advantages of ghost kitchens is that they can be launched across different parts of the country (such as with a commercial kitchen in Austin, NYC, or Chicago) with a minimal investment in just six weeks. A ghost kitchen can thrive with only:
- 200 square feet of real estate
- Four staff members
- An initial investment of $30,000
The food delivery industry has tripled since 2017 thanks to apps like Uber Eats, Postmates, and GrubHub. This number will only rise since consumers are now accustomed to the comforts of food delivery. With the right team in place and proper restaurant technology, ghost kitchens are one of the best and most innovative investments that can be made in the food industry.
Launch your ghost kitchen with CloudKitchens
Trends come and go in the food industry, so it’s important to pay attention to which ones are here for the long haul. With consumers paying more attention to health and global impact, such trends as plant-based alternatives, responsible sourcing, and transparency are worth consideration for any restaurant owner.
For budding restaurant owners, look into starting a ghost kitchen. CloudKitchens is a full-service culinary and business partner that helps restaurant owners launch successful ghost kitchens. When you go into business with CloudKitchens, we provide:
- A private kitchen in a food delivery hub
- Cleaning and maintenance of facilities
- On-site support staff
- Delivery software
- Complete management of delivery logistics and fulfillment
- All utilities, including WiFi, grease/trap cleaning, and pest control
The mission of CloudKitchens is to reduce the risk associated with opening a restaurant and create opportunities for people of all backgrounds. Find out how you can succeed as a restaurant owner today.
Explore ghost kitchen locations across the US:
- Ghost kitchens in San Francisco
- Ghost kitchens in LA
- Ghost kitchens in NYC
- Ghost Kitchens in Toronto
- Ghost Kitchens in Atlanta
- Ghost Kitchens in Dallas
- Ghost Kitchens in Chicago
- Ghost Kitchens in Denver
- Ghost Kitchens in Miami
|DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only and the content does not constitute an endorsement. CloudKitchens does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, images/graphics, links, or other content contained within the blog content. We recommend that you consult with financial, legal, and business professionals for advice specific to your situation.
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National Restaurant Association. Get the facts with the latest National Statistics. https://restaurant.org/research-and-media/research/industry-statistics/national-statistics/
NielsenIQ. Top 7 food and beverage industry trends 2022. https://nielseniq.com/global/en/insights/analysis/2022/top-7-food-and-beverage-industry-trends-2022/
CDC. Heavy Drinking Among U.S. Adults, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db374.htm.
Morning Consult. Dry January Movement Grows in 2022, but for Many It’s More Damp Than Dry. https://morningconsult.com/2022/01/10/dry-january-movement-grows-in-2022/
National Coffee Association. National Coffee Data Trends. https://www.ncausa.org/Portals/56/Images/MarketResearch/20210325%20NCA%202021%20media%20highlights.pdf?ver=DRpZe_V7CfE3O3GkEmSybw%3d%3d
Innova Market Insights. Mental and emotional wellbeing: Targeting the ‘feel good’ factor and specific mood needs. https://www.innovamarketinsights.com/blog/trending-now-mental-and-emotional-wellbeing-targeting-the-feel-good-factor-and-specific-mood-needs/
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