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Tracking Food & Beverage Trends Through 2024 – What’s Actually Being Savored 

At the beginning of the year, we posted our trend predictions for 2024. Since then, our team has been keeping an eye on how the industry has progressed and here is our mid-year check in on all things trendy in the food space.  

Snack Culture Hasn’t Slowed Down 

Don’t underestimate the power of a viral international TikTok snack! Here are some of the top pick snacks for the first half of the year that had us entranced: 

  • Moving on to the Peelable Mango Gummies. These started out as another Asian snack we couldn’t wait to get our hands on and then realized Walgreens had its very own version which quickly became a tough item to find in stores.
  • Do you remember the crispy Pistachio Knafeh Chocolate Bar? Mixed in with ASMR reviews, the Dubai chocolate bar spurred an interest in viewers with the Pistachio filling bright color. Flocking to the nearest retailer that had these bars available led to finding more exotic flavors in the same satisfying bite-in chocolate casing.

One pattern of note is there seems to be a need for interesting new flavors and colors to excite us enough to try and veer from our everyday favorite snacks. Another is that the international snack market is booming.

Celebrity Collabs 

Are they dead? So far there haven’t been any major celebrity x food collaborations of note outside of Mr. Beast x Zaxby’s. We’ll watch for anything that stands out.  

Economy-Driven Dining Value 

The economy has become even more volatile with the general cost of living increasing. Consumers feel like they can’t catch a break, but at the same time the younger generations feel like there’s no time like the present to dine out or get that “sweet treat.”  

QSRs are losing the value factor in fast food. To compensate for a 5% increase in prices from last year, McDonalds is offering a $5 value meal in hopes of luring back customers who may be more cost-conscious.

Dink & Sink culture - “Dual incomes and no kids” and “single income and no kids” is a fast-catching, popularized idea, especially among millennials and Gen Z. Looking at influential factors like the economy & the urge to keep up with pop culture, this seems to be a growing subgroup of affluent consumers to keep in mind.  

Mushroom Frenzy…Has It Been Replaced?  

Consumers looking to find benefits to their daily consumption habits are finding a fix with a focus on gut health. Functional ingredients like pre/pro-probiotics and plant fiber have made their way into popular drinks like Olipop & Poppi, shaking up the soda scene. With a span of health claims from immune function to digestion, these added ingredients act as a healthier alternative to the classic soda flavors consumer’s love.

Clean and Simple Eating – From Scratch 

Thanks to TikTok Influencer and model Nara Smith, we have all reconsidered the whole “there’s food at home” message we used to get as kids. Using as many ingredients she already has at home to make everything from bread to ice cream to gum, she makes cooking an art. Maybe we’ll see a bigger push for made-from-scratch food kits. There’s already a huge consumer desire to have control over what’s in their food, as noted by the increased discernment of food labels. Less sugar and no additives are some of the top food label claims consumers are striving to see more of in the grocery aisle.

Fancied Up Nostalgia Continued 

Nostalgia continues to be a popular marketing tactic! One of our favorites was the McDonald’s Grandma McFlurry. This was a limited-time-only offering that was marketed to recreate sweet childhood memories with grandma, like when she let us have dessert first, with a summertime classic like the McFlurry but, grandma-style.  

With AI on the scene making rapid changes to the norm, the idea of being able to go back to simpler times seems to be appealing to many brands and consumers alike.  

The Sauce Keeps Saucing  

In grocery stores, Heinz teamed up with Mattel marketing and made a limited-edition pink classic barbecue sauce called Barbiecue! It was following up on the Barbie craze from last summer and honored the Barbie brand turning 65. We’ve also seen trendier sauces that were once only available direct-to-consumer hit grocery aisles, like Truff and Heatonist hot sauces made famous by the YouTube Show “Hot Ones.”

In the restaurant world, fast food chains have taken note, too. Many have been showcasing global-inspired flavors like Korean BBQ, very hot recipes like ghost pepper, and other interesting flavor mashups like honey lemon pepper, particularly on chicken. Think KFC’s Saucy Nuggets, Popeye’s Wings, and even recently Wendy’s Saucy Nuggs campaign

Stay tuned to keep an eye out for what we expect to see as we near 2025!