Food and Beverage Trends

Food and Beverage Trends to Know Before NRA 2024

The rise of the “Foodie” has evolved from a satirical term in the 1980s to represent individuals passionate about food. Today, Foodies are driving trends such as plant-based foods, regenerative food, specialty salts, and many more.

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You can’t talk about food and beverage trends without mentioning the rise of the “Foodie.”  

The term “Foodie” was coined in the early 1980s after the world-renowned book by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, “The Official Foodie Handbook”. The Official Foodie Handbook was aimed to satirize the food culture of the time, and now this silly phrase has become its subset of passionate foodgoers.  

So, what is a Foodie today? 

Simply put, a Foodie is a person who has a keen interest and passion for food and cooking. As the evolution of the Foodie has changed, they naturally have become more and more trendy as the years go on.  

A Foodie is not only a person who enjoys eating but also appreciates the little nuances of different cuisines, ingredients, and even culinary techniques. The need to stay within the trends of the food world is crucial for any restaurant connoisseur.  

The National Restaurant Association combines the world of food and hospitality, which “Foodies” and “Restauranteurs” flock to yearly. Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association provides its patrons with resources, essential industry insights, educational materials, and networking possibilities.  

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As a Foodie or even a casual Trade Show goer, it is your obligation to understand the trends of the Food and Beverage world, so we compiled a list of necessary trends that you should know before attending the National Restaurant Association Trade Show.  

Plant-Based Food 

The most important food trend of the 2024 year is plant-based food.  

This trend is driven by climate and environmental consciousness. The younger generation has made it their mission to live in a world that focuses on ecological needs in this rapidly changing climate—coupled with societal pressures to reject the mass production of red meat due to the animals’ living conditions and the overall process of getting the meat from farm to table.  

Many people view plant-based foods as merely mimicking the taste and texture of meat and fish. It still has a lot of traction to gain for being a proper substitute. However, improved technologies such as “precision fermentation” and “cultured meat” could move from the trend phase to the household staple stage.  

Precision fermentation is used to make cheese through yeast without cow milk. The other method, called cultured meat, is taking a fat cell from an animal and replicating it into a source of meat without killing the animal.  

Women in the Culinary Industry 

The demographic that makes and cultivates our foods is ever-changing. Not only are women rising in the food and beverage world, but they are also beginning to dominate how we talk about it. Women find ways to create innovative food start-ups and make themselves known as world-renowned bartenders and service industry professionals.

According to Food Trends 2024, Female connoisseurs, as they are called, have focused on the industry and pointed to more social and ecological issues, thus driving the industry to be more sustainable.  

Regenerative Food 

One of the fastest-growing trends is that of regenerative food.  

The industry has grown beyond what you simply get on your plate into a more nuanced aspect of how that food gets to your plate. The main goal is to promote biodiversity and minimize the impact of agriculture on climate change by actively countering it by regenerating our soil.  

Regenerative food has become the main rival of the organic food industry.  

Organic farms tend to be smaller, thus increasing demand for a more natural product. Organic farming doesn’t hit the food growth source, which is the soil placed in farming. Regenerative refers to a farming practice that considers the planet’s climate and carbon cycles by rehabilitating organic matter in the soil.  

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Though we have a lot more to learn about this food trend, there is no doubt that it’ll become a more evident and prominent trend in our culture.  

The Artful Charcuterie Board 

We venture into more of a literal food trend; the artful charcuterie board has swept the nation as an upcoming food choice.  

The National Restaurant Association listed the Charcuterie Board as the top-ranked appetizer of the year in 2023. In 2024, it looks to keep itself at the top of the appetizer board. The artistic expression of a combination of meats, cheese, and other finger food arranged beautifully on a wooden board first started gaining notoriety during the middle of 2020. 

It allowed people stuck in their homes to express themselves in a food-centric way. The Charcuterie Board has become a simple and easy way to replace your dinner and the optimal party platter that appeases any connoisseur.  

Specialty Salts 

Seasoning is one of the most critical aspects of the culinary world. The rise of specialty salts has become increasingly popular in the food industry.  

The industry-leading food magazine Flavor & the Menu has expressed that gourmet Salt has become the “star of the show.” That same magazine has labeled specialty or gourmet salts as the number four trend in the food world. Specifically, pink peppercorns, matcha, and black lava salt lead the pack when it comes to the popularity of salts.  

Traditional black lava salt is created in Hawaii or Cyprus. Traditional black lava salt is an “unrefined salt.” Unrefined Salt retains all the natural minerals that are perceived to be healthier, such as potassium, iron, and magnesium. The increase of these certain gourmet salts has spiked in grocery stores over the years, with some projections hitting an increase of 2000% compared to your generic brand of salts.  

Specialty Salts have even increased in popularity with celebrities. For instance, Truff, a start-up based in Los Angeles, has gathered support from several celebrities, even being added to “Oprah’s Favorite Things Holiday list.” Something as simple as Salt has taken the industry by storm.  

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As you gear up to dawn the floor at McCormick Place in Chicago, this upcoming May for the annual National Restaurant Association show, you’ve gained the trends that will be showcased in this year’s event.  

Over the years, we have witnessed an outstanding journey through many flavors, preferences, innovations, and industry professionals. As we move forward, it’s evident that food trends will continue to reflect the ever-changing societal shifts, emphasizing what we crave on our plate and how those choices reflect our values.  

Ultimately, the future promises a more diverse, sustainable, and immersive culinary experience. It is up to you to keep up with this constantly changing world that will reflect how we view the food and beverage industry. 

Be the social change that will define what we eat, who feeds us, and most importantly, how we eat.   

Photo credit: Unsplash

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