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F&B Trend Forecast: What to Expect in 2024?

Updated: Mar 20

Undoubtedly, the year 2023 proved to be a crucial period for global economic recovery. Both prominent global F&B brands and local restaurants embarked on promotional campaigns through various channels, including both online and offline platforms, in a concerted effort to enhance their exposure and reach. It is crucial for the F&B industry to expand their customer base by providing unique dining experiences, exceptional customer services and memorable dishes that captivate the market’s interest. As we step into 2024, the competition in F&B industry is expected to be increasingly fierce. To differentiate themselves, restaurants have to understand the needs of the consumers and stay attuned to the evolving trends so as to improve their offerings accordingly. Yet, predicting market’s demands is no easy task. Restaurants not only need to invest significant resources in market research but also require business and market acumen to seize opportunities. For those without the necessary resources, they can take reference from professional research organizations that conduct extensive studies in the field. In light of this, FOODIVAL has compiled a comprehensive overview of the 2024 F&B trends from various international institutions, and selected five major trends to share with you, aiming to help you gain a deeper understanding of consumer needs and preferences for improving your competitiveness, ultimately, setting you apart from your competitors in the industry!

5 F&B Trend Forecast  1. Adoption of New Technologies in Operation and Customer Experience 

As we are aware, the integration of technology is a prevailing trend across various industries. It is anticipated that in 2024, an increasing number of restaurants will embrace different technologies and systems to streamline their existing operational processes, enhance efficiency, and provide novel experiences for their customers. For instance, in the domain of procurement management, more and more chain restaurants have implemented procurement and inventory management systems to consolidate the business foundation for future expansion . These systems effectively handle a wide range of cumbersome procurement and inventory tasks, replacing labor-intensive and time-consuming manual work. This shift allows businesses to optimize their operations, minimize errors, and focus on delivering exceptional dining experiences to their customers.

Meanwhile, since the pandemic, consumers have placed greater importance on the convenience of their dining experiences. They seek simpler and faster ways to enhance the quality of their daily dining. That’s why they are more receptive to integrating new technologies into their everyday dining routines. One of the most prevalent examples is the widespread adoption of pre-cooked meal kits. Businesses have been trying to preserve the nutritional value of the meal while reducing cooking time with advanced technologies. Many prominent foreign brands have already taken the lead in utilizing technologies in their products and services. For instance, Nestlé's DiGiorno is testing an automated vending machine that can prepare frozen pizzas in just 3 minutes. Hellmann's, one of the most popular mayonnaise brands in the UK, has launched a mobile app called “Fridge Night” to help citizens effectively utilize leftovers, reduce waste, and save expenses. In the United States, some fast-food chains are using AI chatbots to allow their customers to place voice orders from their cars, simplifying the ordering process and reducing waiting time.

2. Avoiding Ultra Processed Food

"Ultra-processed food" has become a global buzzword and a widely recognized term associated with harmful food. It will not only fuel intense discussions within society about highly processed, over-processed, or ultra-processed foods but also raise the awareness of consumers on ingredient composition, nutritional value, and production methods. According to the online interview with 1200 Chinese respondents aged between 50 to 65 conducted by Mintel,  A global market intelligence and research agency, approximately 80% of the respondents believed that consuming less processed food is an effective way to improve health. This indicates that more and more consumers, especially middle-aged people, are eager to delve into the processing process and relevant regulations, to understand how it may affect their health. They will pay more attention to reading nutrition labels on packages so as to evaluate the naturalness and quality of the food, as a reference when considering whether to make a purchase.  Therefore, restaurants need to be particularly mindful when selecting ingredients. The sharing of information about food sources and the handling process can be helpful to catch the attention of the consumers if the restaurants emphasize the nutritional value, freshness, and positive environmental impact of their menu. For example, some restaurants make a conscious effort to source local ingredients and sustainable seafood (those caught or farmed with sustainable practices) to reduce carbon emissions and minimize environmental harm. In Thailand, the food company Doi Kham introduced ice cream bars that can be sold at room temperature, allowing consumers to refrigerate them at home. This innovation aims to save the energy consumption required for transportation. 

3. Concern for Healthy Aging

As mentioned earlier, the discussion surrounding the impact of ultra-processed food on health will become a hot topic. It will also raise awareness among consumers about healthy aging, particularly among Generation X (individuals aged between 45 and 59, born between 1965 and 1979) who are entering their senior years and facing various physical changes and health issues. According to Mintel, over 60% of seniors in Thailand rely on their children to purchase their daily food. Therefore, for the families with senior members, there is a particular interest in food and beverage, dietary therapy,  and supplements which promote health. The F&B industry can therefore pay extra attention to address the needs of different age groups, especially middle-aged consumers, when developing recipes and products that cater to their nutritional, mental, and emotional health needs, such as products aimed at improving cardiovascular health or addressing other specific health concerns.

4. Buckwheat Craze

The global discussion on health and sustainable development has led to increased attention on certain ingredients, and "buckwheat" is one of them. In fact, the Whole Foods Market's Ambassador of Food Culture has even declared 2024 as the "Year of Buckwheat" . Buckwheat is no longer limited to making soba noodles and pancakes; it is now appearing in various dishes and beverages. In New York City, buckwheat has become a popular ingredient paired with hot chocolate and curry dishes. Some restaurants incorporate buckwheat into Indian tea or use it with vanilla spices to create unique beverages. As global awareness of green eating, nutritional quality, and sustainable development continues to grow, buckwheat has become a preferred ingredient for many consumers. In addition to its high fiber content, which helps prevent vascular aging and improve constipation, buckwheat can also act as green manure, increasing the organic matter in the soil. It is particularly suitable for planting during fallow periods, aiding in soil restoration. Additionally, buckwheat has weed-suppressing properties, which contribute to environmental sustainability.

5. The Snacks and Meal-flavored Beverage Hype

In addition to the nutritional value of food, professional consumer and market research agencies such as WGSN also predicted that 2024 will witness interesting food trends, including the emergence of meal-flavored beverages and the popularity of snacks. The rise of meal-flavored beverages is closely related to advancements in food technology. Restaurants can use the latest technology to mimic the flavors of different dishes and create beverages with richer and more complex tastes. Examples include salad-flavored cocktails and Thai beef drinks. Furthermore, it is expected that in 2024, consumers will be more interested in different types of snacks and may even consider them as alternatives to traditional meals. Snacks often have a more refined presentation and offer greater creative possibilities compared to traditional meals. Additionally, snacks are typically smaller in size, allowing consumers to taste multiple flavors at once to satisfy their taste buds. This trend also presents an opportunity for restaurants to create innovative snacks that blend different culinary styles, providing customers with a fresh and unprecedented dining experience.

All in all, restaurants should prioritize the quality and nutritional value of ingredients, and leverage innovative elements in their menu and customer experience to stay ahead of the hot trends in F&B industry in 2024. By continuously innovating and improving, restaurants can meet consumers' expectations for high-quality, healthy, creative, and unique dining experiences, which are crucial for maintaining and enhancing their competitiveness in the fiercely competitive F&B market.

If you would like to know more about how FOODIVAL (restaurant procurement and inventory management system) can help improve your restaurant’s operational efficiency and cost control, please contact us here


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