Market & Trends

SFA Trendsetter Panel Highlights Cultivated Meat & Plant-Based Seafood in Top 2024 Food Trends

The Specialty Food Association (SFA) Trendspotter Panel has unveiled its predictions for the top food and beverage trends of 2024, with a significant focus on the growing popularity of plant-based and alternative protein options. The panel, consisting of experts from various culinary backgrounds, anticipates diverse trends that will influence the $194 billion specialty food industry.

“Maximizing pleasure and minimizing stress […] encapsulates the panel’s picks for 2024,” said the SFA’s VP of Resource Development Denise Purcell.

“Maximizing pleasure — in the forms of simple ingredients to global flavors to upscaling the everyday — and minimizing stress, whether that means slowing down, seeking convenience or value, helping to address environmental worries, or finding ways to boost health and mood, are all reflected in the emerging and continuing trends we expect to impact store shelves and restaurant menus in the coming year.”

“Cell-based options will gain popularity”

Trendspotter Patsy Ramirez-Arroyo emphasized one notable trend for 2024, saying, “Cell-based options will gain popularity in 2024 due to their sustainable and ethical production methods, addressing environmental and animal welfare concerns while offering a familiar taste experience to consumers.”

With the USDA finally granting regulatory approval for the sale of cultivated meat in the US earlier this year, key players like Upside Foods and GOOD Meat can finally push forward. 

UPSIDE Foods chicken
© UPSIDE Foods

Mushrooms are also making another notable appearance, not only for their unique taste and texture but also for their health benefits. The SFA expects to see mushrooms continue to be incorporated into a wide range of food and beverage products. Mushroom-infused beverages are particularly gaining popularity, offering relaxation, mood enhancement, and brain health benefits.

Alt seafood innovators “taking a swing” at it

While last year the panel saw non-traditional seafood trending, a shift toward the growth of plant-based overall is coming in 2024, with companies like Konscious Foods and The Plant Based Seafood Co. continuing to innovate in the plant-based seafood space.

“Historically, this has been a challenge for producers as the textures are particularly hard to mimic,” said Trendspotter Chala June. “But with advancing technology, more brands are going to take a swing at it.”

©Konscious Foods

Another trend expected to persist in 2024 is the emphasis on environmental impact. Sustainability, carbon footprint reduction, and minimizing food waste remain top priorities for consumers. Trendspotter Jonathan Deutsch highlights, “Regenerative, upcycled, and sustainably packaged are not just buzzwords but keywords in consumers’ quests to eat well while doing good.”

The SFA trends echo the findings of Whole Foods Market’s 2024 Food Trend Report, which was released last week, reinforcing the growing interest in alternative seafood options, sustainability, and whole food, plant-based choices within the food industry.

Find the entire list of SFA’s predicted food trends for 2024 here

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