Top Five Food and Drink Trends of 2024

Healthy food set out on a white table.

With the cost of living crisis affecting many, consumers’ needs are changing and so are the top food and drink trends of 2024.

As consumers become increasingly health conscious, brands are encouraged to create healthier options. Whether it’s gut-friendly or alcohol free, new innovative products are popping up. They aim to not only appeal to everchanging eating habits, but also spending habits.

In this article we explore the top food and drink trends of the year. Consumers push back on ultra-processed foods and the battle of cash vs contactless seemingly comes to an end. Snacks are becoming increasingly popular, as are alcohol-free drinks. We also look into the importance of loyalty rewards for small businesses.

Lets get into the top five food and drink trends of 2024…

Consumers push back on ultra-processed food

Brands are encouraged to create a wider range of healthier options, as customers become more informed on the foods they eat.

2024 sees a lean towards gut-friendly food and drinks, paving the way for health food brands like Bio&Me. This new company sells ‘granolas, porridges, and mueslis with 12+ different types of plant goodness’.

Gut health has seen a rise on social media. The hashtag #GutTok reached one billion views! With knowledge readily available at our fingertips, consumers can understand the health benefits of a gut-friendly diet. This increases demand for a wider variety of products.

This change in eating habits puts high praise on brands with locally-sourced suppliers. Consumers value high quality, clean ingredients. In 2023 the organic food and drink market grew 2%. Ending the year on £3.2billion, this marks its 12th year of positive growth.

However, it’s not just diets that are changing; mindfulness and self-care are here to stay in all aspects of life.

“I’ve noticed a significant surge in young people seeking self-improvement. More and more, they’re looking to understand themselves better, find purpose, and build resilience. It’s a refreshing shift,” says certified life coach, Luke Kingston. This comes as more people focus on improving their mental health. People are finding ways to incorporate mindfulness into busy lifestyles.

Cash vs Contactless

Will we see an end to this battle in 2024?

The speed and convenience of contactless payments are unmatched.

With mobile payments set to reach 16 million users by 2026, the winner is clear.

This brings good news for businesses, as customers are able to pay quickly, using safe and efficient transactions.

Contactless payment being taken at the till through apple pay.

Barclays research shows that contactless spending only fell -2.9% in 2023, while overall restaurant spending was down -6.7%. Effortless transactions now defeat cost as key customer concerns, despite the cost of living crisis. Businesses are able to provide a fast, streamlined service.

Driven mainly by Gen Z consumers, this trend offers users instant payments at your fingertips, allowing the food/service to remain the primary focus.

Enjoying our article? Click here for more:

Snacking is here to stay

Challenging the traditional concept of three meals a day, snacking is another food and drink trend we’ll be seeing more of in 2024.

Consumers are heading towards low-maintenance, snacky meals to cater around a busy lifestyle. We saw the ‘Girl dinner’ trend on Tiktok last year, which showcased lighter meals and the significance of affordable food.

2024 sees the expansion of Whole Foods, who are opening a 75 new stores across the UK and US and Canada. This comes with the rise of protein-rich snacks such as almonds or pistachios. These provide an alternative to typical on-the-go treats.

Bowl of mixed nuts on a table.

So with a shift towards lighter, smaller meals, brands are taking the opportunity to branch out.

Kellogg’s reported that a surprising 80% of its sales now come from light bites, encouraging the brand to create a whole new “snacking division”.

How important are loyalty rewards to small businesses?

With big brands like Asda and Tesco being criticised for raising prices during the cost of living crisis, smaller businesses have never been in a better position to build customer loyalty.

Square’s 2024 Future of Commerce report found that most restaurateurs (89%) are planning to expand their businesses in the next year. Smaller companies are able to strengthen customer relationships, by offering better value than rival grocers and creating a mutually-beneficial shopping experience.

Now is the time for independent businesses to grow their audience, as larger companies risk customer loyalty by raising prices. After taking a hit during lockdown, small companies can use this opportunity to attract customers from larger stores.

Alcohol free is on the rise

With the stigma surrounding low/no-alcohol options lifting, more pub-goers are ordering from an increasing variety of hangover-free drinks.

The traction behind this trend comes from a focus to improve physical health and also mental health. Research from Alcohol Change UK shows that more than one in four people want to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink in 2024.

Whilst health plays a big factor in this trend, it is also likely due to cost. Many are forced to budget and limit spending. Up to 39% of 18-to-24 year olds now self-describe as being fully alcohol-free, according to a recent YouGov survey. 

This opens up a gap in the market for light alcohol brands. By using innovative methods they’re able to push their new products. We’ve seen the success of alcohol-free drinks with the likes of Guinness 0.0. This product has seen significant growth in the past two years. Brands new to the industry have also made an impression, like Big Drop Brewing Co. After first releasing a 0.5% ABV milk stout in 2016, they now host a range of alcohol-free craft beers. This includes gluten-free and vegan options too.

Hands holding up three cans of alcohol free drinks.

Our thoughts…

2024 sees a shift towards clean eating as people become more health-conscious. Many are even cutting back on alcohol intake. The importance of high-quality produce that is still affordable is highlighted through both eating and spending habits.

Whether people are making changes to their lifestyle for health or cost reasons, it’s clear that this year will see big changes in food and drink trends. Ultra-processed foods are out and gut-friendly options are in. This trend sees consumers reaching for meals that include vegetables, ingredients rich in vitamins and minerals as well as low-fat/sugar options.

As our lifestyles get busier and busier, contactless payments continue to rise. Customers value service optimisation with seamless transactions. The convenience of snacking, when living such a busy lifestyle, is also recognised. Brands continue to release healthier options of their popular cereal bars, with Cadbury’s just announcing the release of Brunch Light bars. Containing less than 100 calories per bar, these are definitely on trend!

With big supermarkets under increasing pressure, 2024 could be the year for small businesses. If smaller brands are willing to adapt and create a mutually beneficial service, they could see success. Customers are encouraged to shop at independent businesses rather than spend their money at large corporations. This includes alcohol-free brands, who can also use these trends to their advantage. An increasing number of people choose to either cut down the amount they drink, or stop completely.

Which of the top five food and drink trends of 2024 are you on board with?


Something else...