AI Predicts 2024 FoodBev Trends

2023 was a big year for artificial intelligence in the food industry, and generative AI is slated to dominate the 2024 food and beverage marketing scene.

“The emergence of generative AI offers a new reality to meet the urgent demands of our market,” said Alon Chen, CEO of food and beverage data platform Tastewise, in a new report. “This technological advancement is already revolutionizing how we operate and create within the food and beverage industry and continues to offer massive potential.”

Here are four food and beverage trends to watch, according to Tastewise AI.

Late Night Snacking: A New Dining Occasion

 Nighttime snacking is on the rise — related consumer discussions are up 18% year-over-year (YOY). Furthermore, satisfying late night cravings in a healthy manner has become a priority, as eating late at night can cause weight gain and blood sugar spikes that damage sleep quality.

This intersection of health and snacking has pushed fibrous, protein-rich late night snacks to the forefront. Protein’s popularity for late-night consumption is up 29% YoY.

Trending ingredients include:

  • Cottage cheese: Interest in the protein appeal of cottage cheese skyrocketed by 300% over the last two years. Furthermore, 22% of these eating occasions are already as a snack.
  • Versatile pudding: Simple-to-make puddings are replacing late-night ice cream with a 33% YoY surge in consumer interest.

“Versatile puddings can be both sweet and savory while effectively delivering protein and nutrition via ingredients like cottage cheese…yet there is a lack of suitable recipes,” said the Tastewise report team. “Create nutritious, protein-rich pudding recipes for late-night indulgence to engage consumers and boost consumption.”

South & East Asian Flavors

 The top experiential eating claims for 2024 are “adventurous,” “unique,” and “creative,” and frozen Asian desserts are checking all these boxes with strong menu sales. Here are a few standouts by YOY social buzz:

  • Thai Mais con Yelo (+42%): A sweet fusion of corn kernels, shaved ice, milk, and sugar.
  • Filipino Halo Halo (+16.5%): Meaning “mix-mix” in Tagalog, the dish layers shaved ice and condensed milk with a variety of textural ingredients like fresh fruit, syrup-packed beans, tapioca pearls, and colorful jellies.
  • Korean Bingsu (8.6%): A sensory adventure of shaved ice and sweet toppings including fresh fruit.

Asian ice cream flavors including Korean red bean, Thai Pandan coconut, and Filipino Calamansi are also capturing mainstream tastebuds. As uniqueness, spiciness, and Korean influences surge, gochujang ice cream is slated to become the next big frozen hit.

“Consumers crave the distinctiveness of exotic cuisines, with Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, SE Asian, Japanese, and Filipino flavors leading the way, measuring 2-3 times more unique than the industry standard,” noted the Tastewise team in the report.

Indulgent and Affordable Dishes

In 2023, food consumers pursued the art of having it all. Interest in indulgent food and beverage surged by 41% YoY, while affordability concerns increased 30% over the past two years while mentions of “affordable indulgence” doubled during the same time period.

The top ingredient that allows consumers to have their cake and it eat it, too? Offal, the non-muscular and organ “meats” of an animal.

“Consumers demand it all without compromise, and [this] surprising ingredient is primed to disrupt the scene, offering health, indulgence, and savings,” said the Tastewise team. “Consumers consider offal to be highly affordable and indulgent preparations are on the rise 25% YoY.”

Guajillo: The Next “Hot” Pepper?

The majority of U.S. consumers agree that spice is nice. Ongoing polling shows that almost one-third of people love spicy food (31%), and nearly two-fifths like it (36%), reported Civic Science.

Among the trending chili pepper varieties are guajillo peppers — fresh mirasol chiles that have been dried. Guajillo over-index for trending experiential claims — including authenticity and uniqueness — when compared to more general seasonings.

“Keep an eye out for 2024’s trending regional Mexican salsas, featuring varieties like salsa matcha, crafted with popular peppers like guajillo,“ noted the Tastewise report team. “These pair exceptionally well with meat-rich dishes like birria tacos.”

The Food Institute Podcast

The foodservice industry has changed drastically since the pandemic, but who would have thought collaboration would be the main sticking point from all that turmoil? IFMA President & CEO Phil Kafarakis discusses this and how his organization is going through a transformation to better serve its members under this new industry paradigm.