Today, YouBar, one of the largest ‘better for you’ manufacturers in the snack food space, unveils its predictions for the top 10 anticipated food trends of 2024. Drawing on insights from a diverse team of innovators, foragers, buyers, and culinary specialists, YouBar's forecast is rooted in decades of experience in product sourcing and a keen understanding of up-and-coming consumer preferences.
1. Real Plants are Hot (forget ‘vegan fake meats’)
The original pioneers of plant-based cuisine are making a resurgence, redefining the plant-based category with a focus on original ingredients. Expect to see protein-forward products incorporating mushrooms, walnuts, soy bean, and legumes, offering a refreshing alternative to highly processed meat substitutes. Good-bye “Beyond Meat.” Hello, burger patty that is an actual portobello mushroom cap.
2. The “No Seed Oil” Revolution
Health-conscious consumers are ditching seed oils in a bid for better nutrition. Many widely used seed oils, such as soybean oil, corn oil, and vegetable oil, have raised health concerns primarily due to their high omega-6 fatty acid content, which is linked to inflammation and chronic diseases. Often processed using refining methods, these oils can contain harmful compounds like trans fats and oxidation byproducts, associated with cardiovascular risks and oxidative stress. The polyunsaturated fats in seed oils make them prone to oxidation when exposed to heat, particularly during cooking, leading to the formation of potentially detrimental compounds. Their widespread use in processed and fast foods has led to overconsumption, exacerbating health issues. Alternative oils – like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil – are primed to be excellent replacements.
3. Cacao Craze
Chocolate is perennially popular, and the entire antioxidant-rich seed is now being used in increasingly innovative ways. Brands like Blue Stripes are putting the spotlight on the whole cacao, introducing products that utilize often discarded by-products like cacao pulp. This trend extends to cacao fruit powders, providing a unique sugar alternative with rich, decadent flavors.
4. Buckwheat Boom
Recognized for its role in supporting soil health as a cover crop, buckwheat takes center stage as a superfood seed. Gluten-free and versatile, it finds its way into various products, from plant-based protein bars to baked goods, like cookies and brownies.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Health-conscious consumers are driving a surge in demand for anti-inflammatory foods. Brands are incorporating ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory properties, offering products that promote wellness and support a healthier lifestyle. Think turmeric, ginger, green tea, almonds and leafy greens.
6. Get Spicy
Global peppers, including specialty varieties like Scorpion Peppers, Cayenne and Guajillo, take center stage – flavoring everything from cookies to chocolate. Hot peppers offer health benefits primarily due to the presence of capsaicin, the compound responsible for their spiciness, which is being touted for its ability to boost metabolism and help with weight loss. The compound's antioxidant properties also help neutralize free radicals, supporting overall cellular health.
7. Caffeine and Protein Together
Combining caffeine with protein in food offers several advantages, particularly for those seeking enhanced physical and cognitive performance. This combination has been found to improve exercise performance by increasing alertness and endurance, making it beneficial for individuals engaged in physical activities. Moreover, the pairing of caffeine, known for its cognitive benefits, with protein-rich foods can provide sustained energy release and mental clarity, making it advantageous for tasks requiring focus. Additionally, the satiating effect of protein contributes to appetite control, potentially aiding in weight management.
8. Women’s Health in the Spotlight
Talking about female health and nutrition is suddenly very on trend, and foods that support women's health during various life stages (ie; puberty, pregnancy, menopause and menstruation) are experiencing mass popularity. This includes calcium-rich options like dairy and leafy greens for bone health and iron-rich foods such as lean meats and legumes to prevent anemia.
9. IBS-Friendly Fare
Addressing the needs of those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a growing trend focuses on foods that support digestive health. Brands are introducing products tailored to IBS-friendly diets, such as LOW FODMAP, and offering relief and delicious options for individuals with specific dietary requirements.
10. A Better Boost
Foods incorporating adaptogens, such as ashwagandha, reishi mushrooms and holy basil, have gained attention for their potential to enhance mental well-being without the drawbacks associated with caffeine. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and promote balance. In contrast to caffeine, which can lead to energy crashes and heightened anxiety, adaptogens modulate the body's stress response, promoting a sustained and more stable energy boost. These foods, which may include adaptogenic herbs in beverages like teas or supplements, offer a gentler yet effective approach to combating fatigue and promoting mental clarity. By supporting the adrenal glands and regulating cortisol levels, adaptogens contribute to improved cognitive function, reduced feelings of stress, and increased overall resilience. While caffeine can sometimes lead to jitteriness and disrupted sleep, adaptogens are celebrated for their ability to provide a more harmonious and sustainable boost to mental performance, making them an appealing alternative for those seeking a mindful and balanced approach to heightened alertness.
YouBar's predictions for 2024 reflect a dynamic landscape where innovation, sustainability, and holistic well-being intersect to shape the future of the food industry.