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  • Hugo Walker

2024’s food trends: Flavours, health, and ag-tech



From salted caramel to cascara, gut health to ag-tech, the professionals weigh in on likely trends for the coming year 


As we enter 2024, Food Manufacture has asked professionals for their two cents about the flavours and trends that will mark the new year’s food and beverage landscape.


2024’s Flavour Profiles

In the vast landscape of food and drink, new flavours are the name of the game. With the rise of the Instagram and TikTok chef, trends are becoming more palpable - and universal - across the West, and we’re seeing interesting new phenomena of the viral "amateurs" introducing popular flavour profiles to the restaurant industry, rather than only the other way round.


Tastes of comfort, warmth and nostalgia are said to be popular this year, with flavours like salted caramel, gingerbread and those nutty and toasty notes that add depth and richness taking central stage in the baking industry and beyond. 


However, there is still room for more adventurous flavours and new products. For example, cascara is predicted to start breaking into the mainstream this year. Cascara is the outside shell of the coffee bean — it is usually thrown away as a by-product during coffee harvesting, so bringing Cascara into mainstream tastes can reduce waste and bring new income to coffee producers without adding too many extra steps in the production process. 


Ian Bryson, MD at Lincoln & York, explained: "Cascara’s unique taste lies somewhere between coffee and tea. Whilst not as strong or rich as coffee, it’s full of fruity, slightly floral, and earthy notes whilst being packed with antioxidants and significantly less caffeine than coffee. With its sustainability credentials and added health benefits, plus a novel taste profile, Cascara is one to watch in the year ahead.”


Meanwhile, the East Asian citrus fruit yuzu, which has the sweetness of mandarin oranges combined with the tartness of a grapefruit, is said to make its way to Western markets this year.


Sustainability and Tech 

Gen Z consumers are particularly serious about sustainability, scrutinising brands for authenticity, responsible sourcing and labour practices. Manufacturers are expected to invest in people and planetary restoration, and greenwashing is becoming more and more easy to spot with tools, apps and traceability that gives consumers more insight into where their food is coming from.


Plant-based products are thought to continue and strengthen their success and popularity, particularly pioneering milk and cheese alternatives - have we peaked with oat milk, or is there better on the horizon? 


Technology, especially AI, and the rise of precision ag-tech, is playing a role in smarter agriculture, ensuring responsible practices, optimum soil restoration times, and reduction of inputs such as energy and water.

 

Health & Wellbeing 

Health is in the spotlight, and people are willing to invest a bit more in products that offer benefits. Gut health is a particular focus, with the benefits of a strong microbiome for warding off anxiety, improving digestion and skin health picked up on by many consumers. The combination of their gut-loving properties along with their complex taste profiles has catalysed fermented foods like kimchi and pickles into popularity.

 

Meanwhile, protein is no longer just for fitness enthusiasts; it's becoming a go-to for satisfying hunger and keeping energy levels up. Mental well-being is also a huge focus, and the fad diet talk of the 2000s has shifted to a far more healthy attitude towards sweet treats, transforming mindsets towards said goodies from “guilty pleasures” to mood boosters, along with the notion that enjoying food is just as important as eating healthily. 


In summary, 2024 is about those warm and comforting flavours, taking care of our wellbeing, making choices that are good for us and the planet and pioneering ag-tech.


Read the full article about 2024’s food trends on Food Manufacture here.

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