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Food Trends to Get Excited About in 2024

Food Trends to Get Excited About in 2024

A longing for authenticity. An urge to protect the planet and embrace nature. An itch to spice things up. These are the modern sentiments shaping what will show up on our plates and in our glasses in 2024, according to experts who forecast food trends. 

We asked nearly a dozen industry insiders—from chefs to a food futurologist—what to expect in the year ahead for food and drink. Here’s what they said. 

An emphasis on global flavors 

Even if you don’t venture farther than a nearby restaurant in 2024, exciting new flavors from around the world will be at the other end of your fork. One of the defining trends of the year is expected to be third-culture cuisine, or dishes from a chef's diverse background. Think: wafu Italian restaurants, which bridge Japanese and Italian cultures, and Filipino-British bakeries. “It’s very much derived from social changes and globalization and the meaning of identity today,” says Claire Lancaster, head of food and drink at the trend-forecasting company WGSN. In the past, she notes, someone might have “slapped something random on a pizza” and called it fusion, but more care goes into it now. “This new generation of chefs is creating products that reflect their unique, multi-layered cultural identities.” 

More Asian ingredients 

Expect Asian flavors and ingredients to have a moment. Black sesame, ube, and milk tea will follow the path of matcha and become more prevalent, predicts Denise Purcell, vice president of resource development with the Specialty Food Association, a trade group that hosts the Fancy Food Show. “We’re seeing milk tea-filled donuts and ube hot chocolate,” she says. “I was just someplace where they had black sesame cookies.” The flavors are also popping up in salty snacks, like black milk tea popcorn, Purcell notes. 

Andrea Xu, co-founder and CEO of Umamicart, an online grocer that specializes in Asian groceries, anticipates more people will embrace Asian fruits, such as rambutan, pink guava, longan, mangosteen, and various types of dragon fruit. “If you go for the golden variety, it will be much sweeter and softer,” Xu says of dragon fruit. “The white and purple varieties are a little tangier. They make for really good smoothies.” 

In Denver, Ni and Anna Nguyen—the married chefs behind popular Vietnamese restaurant Sap Sua—are excited about the emergence of first-generation Asian chefs diversifying what dining looks like. “A lot of people are starting to recognize that there’s a difference between the cuisines,” Ni says. “What makes Filipino cuisine special, and what makes Vietnamese cuisine special? It’s not just lumped into one category.” 

Steps toward sustainability 

One of the undercurrents driving food and drink trends is our collective desire to take care of the planet. More companies will prioritize sustainability in the coming months in surprising ways. Expect, for instance, the rise of alternative chocolates. As Lancaster points out, the demand for cocoa has led to deforestation worldwide; plus, access to it is becoming more difficult and expensive. Alternative chocolate is “made without cocoa,” but it still tastes remarkably similar to your standard bar, she says. “There’s a group of innovators who are creating alternatives that have the same taste, smell, and melt of original chocolate.” One U.S.-based company, Voyage Foods, uses ingredients like grape seeds, sunflower protein flour, and sunflower lecithin to make their alternative chocolate. In the U.K., WNWN Food Labs replaces cocoa beans with ingredients like cereals and legumes. 

Other companies are responding to water scarcity, extreme heat, and droughts by creating products that minimize their water footprint. For example: waterless plant milks come in powder form, so you can mix in water at home. “The industry is realizing that we’re paying to ship water—that’s 90% of the product,” Lancaster says. “It’s a huge CO2 emitter, and it adds to the cost of the product.” Other companies are utilizing drought-friendly crops like prickly pear cactus to make snacks like popcorntrail mix, and candy. 

Meanwhile, as we learn more about the climate impact of marine ingredients, expect innovators to start showcasing lesser-known ones, Lancaster says. That includes urchins and fish roe—all of which “create a really lovely, savory, umami depth of flavor, and they’re bringing it to a wider range of dishes.” 

Fun with fungi 

Todd Anderson, a chef and founder of the Turnip Vegan Recipe Club, gets mushy when talking about mushrooms. In 2024, more of us will embrace fungi, he predicts—and mushrooms will shine as a meat replacement. Anderson recently made mushroom meatballs and roasted lion’s mane, a mushroom that grows on woody tree trunks. He also enjoys dishes like shiitake bacon, mushroom roast beef, and maple sausage made out of mushrooms. Many mushrooms are easy to grow at home, he says, even for people in urban environments—and he’s looking forward to seeing more people grow and experiment with them in 2024. 

Source: Angela Haupt, Time