When you own a business in the food and beverage industry, it can be challenging to stay profitable. Restaurant profit margins are notoriously thin, which means that it’s important to know what your customers want so that you can keep your tables full. In 2024, food trends have a heavy focus on sustainability and health. While you shouldn’t overhaul your menu every year to meet the latest trends, it may make sense to find ways to work a popular food (like mushrooms, avocado, or ube) into your menu. In this way, you can maintain your current customers while appealing to others.
At Budget Branders, we work with independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, and more throughout the United States. We offer high-quality, custom-printed disposable items – like branded custom plastic cups, custom coffee sleeves, custom napkins, custom wax paper, and custom paper bags – in smaller quantities and at fair prices. If you are interested in increasing your marketing efforts in a cost-efficient way, reach out today to talk to a member of our branding team.
Top Food Trends for 2024
Like anything else, food trends come and go. As a restaurant owner, it’s important to stay on top of the trends so that you stay profitable. After all, if there is a high demand for alternative milk and you only offer cow’s milk, you may turn off potential customers or alienate existing patrons.Of course, not all trends are going to work for every restaurant. If you run a steakhouse, then offering plant-based protein may not make a lot of sense. But understanding these trends can help you tweak your menu to meet customers where they are, such as by offering a more robust selection of vegetarian options so that you can keep your primary customers while also gaining some new diners.
Below, we have broken down the top 25 food trends for 2024. Adding some of these items to your menu may be a great way to keep your restaurant, coffee shop, or boba shop busy.
1) New Types of Plant-Based Protein
In the past, eating a plant-based diet was more of an “alternative” choice. Today, as people become more concerned about their own health as well as the environment, more and more people are choosing to focus on plants rather than meat – even if they aren’t fully vegetarian or vegan. Meat substitutes will continue to be popular, as will plant-forward dishes that may use meat as a small component or flavoring instead of the main part of the meal.
2) Retro Meals
In 2024, there is a lot to be stressed about, from inflation to the environment. Many Americans are turning to comfort foods, like mac and cheese, to remind them of simpler times. Restaurants can take advantage of this trend by offering different nostalgic foods to remind customers of their childhoods.
3) Climate Conscious Foods
It can be hard to escape the headlines about climate change – or the reality of living in a world where unusual weather events keep happening. Many consumers want to “be the change” by making more sustainable choices in all aspects of their lives. This includes considering the environmental impact of the food that they eat. Restaurants can take advantage of this trend by focusing on using every part of an ingredient (such as by pickling watermelon rind), and buying locally-produced, sustainable products whenever possible.
If you aren’t familiar, ube is a purple yam that hails from the Philippines. It works well in both desserts and savory dishes – and its color makes for a great visual impact. Many ube-based products are already popular in grocery stores like Trader Joe’s – and you can expect to see even more ube dishes on menus around the country.
5) Greater Varieties of Plant-Based Milk
In 2021 and 2022, oat milk was all the rage. While oat milk is still popular, other plant-based options like sesame milk and pistachio milk are hitting the market. These milk alternatives are high in protein, sustainable, and a great alternative for anyone who can’t have traditional dairy.
6) Low and No Alcohol Beverages
As Americans become more health-conscious, many have opted to either stop drinking alcohol or cut back on the amount that they drink. This has led to an increase in the popularity of low and no-ABV drinks, available at stores and at bars and restaurants. Many restaurants are even starting to offer non-alcoholic pairings for diners who want a drink to complement their meal without the alcohol.
7) Kelp as a Sustainable Option
Kelp is a type of brown algae that grows in saltwater and absorbs carbon from the environment. It is incredibly nutritious and can be eaten raw or cooked. As it is both a sustainable and healthy choice, it isn’t surprising that kelp can be found throughout the grocery store, from kelp noodles to kelp burgers to hot sauce to vinegar.
8) Wiggly Foods
We still live in a social-media obsessed world, which means that foods that show up well in pics and videos are popular. Enter: wiggly food. Dishes like Japanese soufflé pancakes are becoming trendy because they make for great videos (and are delicious, too!).
9) Tinned Fish Resurgence
During the pandemic, many Americans panic-bought whatever shelf-stable food that they could get. One popular option for protein was tinned fish, including tuna, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Both home cooks and restaurant chefs are getting in on the resurgence of tinned fish, finding new ways to celebrate this great low cost, high-flavor protein option.
Love them or hate them, mushrooms are a hot food trend in 2024. The reason why is simple: not only are mushrooms a great meat substitute, but they are also incredibly healthy. They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, low calorie, high in fiber, and contain anti-inflammatory properties. This superfood is often fairly inexpensive as well, making it an easy choice for anyone concerned about their health, budget, and the environment.
11) Whipped Cheese
While cheese boards are still popular, there is a new way that many Americans are enjoying cheese: whipped and served as a dip or a spread. Whether you choose goat cheese, feta, ricotta, or another soft cheese, there is a recipe for every palate.
12) Immersive Dining Experiences
For a year or longer, most Americans weren’t able to eat out at restaurants. Now that pandemic-related restrictions are in the past, diners expect more. Enter the immersive dining concept – like tableside service, dinner theater, music, and more. While this isn’t exactly a new concept, it is experiencing a renaissance.
13) Functional Food
All food is functional, of course – but in 2024, expect to see more foods that offer a specific benefit, such as fermented foods that can boost gut health. You may also see foods that boost your mood or help you relax, or that include prebiotics or probiotics. Similarly, in states where it is legal, cannabis-infused food is becoming more popular.
14) Cottage Cheese: a Powerhouse Protein
If you’re not on TikTok, you may have missed the popularity of cottage cheese as an ingredient. Whether a base for roasted tomatoes or used to make ice cream, cottage cheese is having a moment in 2024. High in protein and low in fat, it is little wonder that cottage cheese has become a hot new trend.
15) Dates as a Sweet Treat
In many cultures, dates have long been used in recipes and as desserts. In the United States, however, dates didn’t enjoy such popularity. In 2024, however, dates will be a hot item for making desserts. As a natural sweetener and binder, dates can be used to make all sorts of treats, from candy-like confections to brownies.
16) Avocado Everything
The “millennials love avocado toast” stereotype may be a bit played out – but it’s also true. In 2024, though, avocado isn’t limited to guacamole and toast. You can expect to see it in all types of recipes, including desserts.
17) Beverages that Do More
In 2024, Americans want their beverages to do more than just hydrate them. Continuing the “food as medicine” trend, many beverage companies – like Olipop – are adding ingredients like prebiotics to add nutritional value. Some alcoholic brands are even getting in on the trend, adding antioxidants to boost your experience.
18) Even More Charcuterie Boards
You may have thought that charcuterie boards reached their peak in 2022, when “butter boards” trended on TikTok. In reality, the popularity of “boards” (which usually don’t include actual charcuterie) hasn’t diminished. Expect to see even more varieties of boards in 2024, such as dessert boards featuring chocolates paired with cheeses.
19) Filipino Cuisine
We know that Filipino cuisine isn’t a trend – it’s the food of millions of people both in the Philippines and across the world. Yet until recently, many Americans weren’t familiar with Filipino food in the same way that they were with Chinese and Thai food. In 2024, expect more Americans to experience Filipino classics like chicken adobo, lumpia, and more.
20) More Nutritious Pastas
Even if you aren’t on a low-carb or gluten-free diet, you may still be conscious of the amount of refined carbohydrates that you eat. Food manufacturers are meeting the demand for more nutritious pasta with ingredients like whey, sweet potatoes, greens, and beans.
Like other foods and beverages, there are often trends in alcohol sales. In 2024, expect to see tequila more often on bar and restaurant menus. Once limited to margaritas and shots, more people are appreciating the qualities of higher-end tequilas. One huge benefit to agave-based spirits like tequila and mezcal is that they are natural and low in calories, making them a great choice for health-conscious consumers.
22) Caviar Cravings
When things are difficult, sometimes it’s nice to splurge on a bit of luxury. Enter: caviar. In 2022, there was an uptick in caviar sales. This trend is expected to continue, as more Americans seem to be craving a bit of buttery richness with their meals.
23) Flavored Water
Flavored water isn’t a new thing – people have been adding powders, fruits, and veggies to water for years. But in 2024, #WaterTok is a thing – and people are doing a lot more than just adding a few sliced lemons to their water bottles. Flavored waters have reached a whole new level, with entire recipes for things like creamsicle-flavored water.
24) A Wider Range of Grains
Most of us rely fairly heavily on one or two grains, such as rice and wheat. But there is a whole world of grains out there, from quinoa (technically a seed not a grain, but used like a grain for culinary purposes) to spelt to barley and rye. As Americans become more concerned about the environment, they may focus more on rotational grains like oats that can improve soil health.
25) More Experimental Cocktails
In 2020 – 2021, many of us got used to enjoying alcoholic beverages at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that bars are fully open again, a lot of consumers want a little something extra when they’re having a drink out on the town. Bars are responding to this demand by adding unique elements – like vapor, smoke, foam, and complementary pairings – that the average patron can’t replicate at home.
Contact Budget Branders Today
Food trends are always changing – but the need to market your restaurant stays the same. If you use disposables in your food or beverage business, it’s a smart business decision to add your name, logo, and/or slogan to those promotional products. Serving your food or beverage in a custom paper cup, custom deli container, custom stadium cup, custom sandwich bag, or custom coffee cup that you already need costs just pennies on the dollar – and is a great way to increase your advertising reach. Budget Branders offers high-quality custom disposable products for all types of food and beverage businesses, including restaurants, food trucks, breweries, and coffee shops. We understand the pressures that a lot of business owners face, which is why we work hard to make our products accessible to companies of all sizes. All of our products are sold in smaller quantities and are reasonably priced.
If you’d like to learn more or to request a quote, contact us today by pressing the live chat button, or sending us a message online.