Star ingredients ‘take the spotlight’ of leading 2024 trend

By Natasha Spencer-Joilliffe

- Last updated on GMT

According to Innova Market Insights, 'star' ingredients are taking centre stage. GettyImages/vgajic
According to Innova Market Insights, 'star' ingredients are taking centre stage. GettyImages/vgajic

Related tags Innova market insights

The presence of star ingredients will drive purchasing and packaging decisions, Innova Market Insights reveals in its Top Ten Trends for food and beverages in 2024.

‘Taking the Spotlight’ is the leading food and beverage trend for 2024, Innova Market Insights reveals, with consumers wanting products with hero ingredients, macronutrients and front-of-pack communication.  

“A third of the consumers we polled said they respond positively to certain key ingredients being flagged up,” ​Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova, said. “This may be for reasons of flavour or texture, for example, or other positive associations – not purely because of any better-for-you benefits,”​ Williams added.

Consumer appetite for ingredient information increases

Star ingredients take the spotlight of leading trends in Innova’s list for 2024. Its position at the top of the list may be linked to consumers’ preferences for other sought-after products, the prominence of social media campaigns, or years of receiving online information on healthy ingredients ranging from ‘superfruits’ to gut-friendly bacteria, Williams relayed.

Amid the rise of the clean label trend, consumers have become more aware of the content of their products. Yet, in Innova’s webinar on its Top Ten Trends for 2024, Williams noted “now we’ve seen an almost full circle back to about 30 years ago when ingredients really became a key part of the product’s unique selling point (USP)”.

Ingredients will become ever more integral to a brand’s successful marketing messages. Today’s consumers seek value from the ingredients in their chosen products, making front-of-pack communications vital. A third of consumers across eleven countries that Innova surveyed said they always look at the ingredients on food and drink packaging.

From Innova’s global research, 42% of consumers said that ‘protein’ was the most important ingredient. Mushrooms have also become a prominent ingredient, with main meals featuring mushrooms or specific mushroom types as an ingredient rising 12% year-on-year between 2018 and 2023.

Ingredient spending is expected despite inflation levels

Amid the cost-of-living crisis, affordability is an unavoidable concern for many European consumers. Upon release of the industry’s top ten trends, the global insights director at Innova stated that she acknowledges that finding food families need at an affordable price is a core challenge, today.

“But our research with consumers and across the products they buy tells us that other considerations are coming into play and will feature more prominently during 2024,” ​Williams said.

Favourable ingredients supporting the growing consumer consciousness for nutritious and sustainable products will spur higher spending into 2024, Innova Market Insights found in its latest food and beverage sector research.

Increased spending is anticipated despite the ongoing impact of high food price inflation and necessary cutbacks to weekly shops, Innova revealed. Appealing and popular ingredients with nature-friendly claims and health benefits are expected to have the most significant effect on driving sales in 2024.

Tackling health, sustainability and convenience needs

In 2024, consumers can expect food and drink trends to centre on achieving the ‘best of both worlds’ to satisfy multiple areas of consciousness, including protecting the environment, focusing on health and maximising convenience.

Amid consumer concern for the environment and desire to protect nature, Innova’s second top trend for 2024 is ‘nurturing nature’. The importance of sustainability in food and beverage spending, consumption, and production is reflected in Innova data, which reveals that today, the planet’s wellbeing has overtaken personal wellbeing as a priority. Over the past four years, the company’s research found a 40% annual increase in food and beverage products, making a water usage claim.

Prioritising prevention is another leading trend for 2024, as health remains a core objective for many consumers. “Over a third of consumers tell us they want to be proactive about maintaining good health, with a lot of the messaging around us emphasising the need to take more personal responsibility here,” ​Williams said. Weight management, bone health and cardiovascular disease are among the key concerns influencing consumers’ purchasing habits.

Innova’s data revealed a shift in plant-based food, focusing on applied offerings. As a result, producers and consumers are expected to turn to familiar and convenient recipes and formats. “There is a clear message to brands and retailers that, while some consumers don’t eat meat at all, many more are happy to eat less of it,” ​Williams detailed.

Global research found 8% annual growth in ready meals and sides making ‘plant-based’ or ‘vegan’ claims between 2020 and 2023. “Time-saving ready meals are serving up increasing numbers of popular dishes in alternative vegan or vegetarian versions, such as lentil lasagne,” ​Williams added.

Sourcing ingredients locally is also set to grow in 2024, with producers incorporating clearly labelled ingredients sourced close to home into their global recipes. ‘Local goes global’ is an identified trend in 2024, which sees manufacturers marry convenience with sustainable methods to source ingredients.

“The end result can combine the opportunity for local pride with the excitement of international dishes,” ​Williams detailed. Consumer appetites for adventurous eating remain, with two-thirds of consumers stating they are willing to try new global cuisine. “This does not replace the popularity of traditional, local menus, but extends them into new domains.”

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