As we stride into 2024, the meat industry is experiencing a culinary revolution like never before. From innovative fusion to a focus on holistic health and wellbeing, the landscape is evolving to cater to diverse tastes and preferences.

Factors such as the cost-of-living crisis, sustainability and health consciousness all play into how consumers approach food. We found that 65% of consumers eat in at restaurants or food outlets to treat themselves, and 55% of consumers do it to celebrate special occasions. In this blog post, we delve into top tantalising food trends that are reshaping the food industry in 2024 and how you can use them to your advantage.  

Eating out dinner table

British Fusion: A Symphony of Flavours 

Gone are the days of traditional meat dishes confined by geographical boundaries. In 2024, the British fusion trend is taking the food industry by storm. What exactly is it, you ask?  It’s the concept of merging British foods, formats and dishes with other global or world cuisines. Chefs are combining quintessential British ingredients with global flavours, creating a harmonious blend that transcends borders.  

We know that consumers currently eat a diverse range of cuisines, however the British fusion trend bridges the gap between the comfortable flavours and familiarity of what the consumer knows and loves, and the idea of trying new flavours. 35% state that they find British Fusion appealing because it’s a way to try new flavours in a format they are familiar with. Picture a succulent chicken pasty with fragrant Indian spices, a classic Sunday dinner with a Caribbean twist such as a jerk lamb roast or incorporating chorizo in a traditional English breakfast. This trend not only celebrates culinary diversity but also showcases the versatility of British cuisine. 

The top 10 preferred British fusions in order of popularity include: 

  • Chinese 
  • Indian 
  • Italian 
  • American 
  • Mexican 
  • Spanish 
  • Thai 
  • Korean 
  • Moroccan 
  • Lebanese 

Mind, Mood, and Body: A Holistic Approach to Eating 

As awareness grows around the links between food and health and wellbeing, the meat industry is embracing a holistic approach to consumption. Mind, mood and body isn’t just a fad, it represents making informed food and drink choices to give our bodies the nutrients they need, a concept which will continue to resonate with UK consumers in 2024. 

A general focus on the principles of a healthy diet continues including healthy, balanced meals, which means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions. Consumers are also interested in foods which provide omega-3’s (a type of healthy fat) and other nutrients that may help support mood including red meat and poultry. Additionally, chefs are experimenting with ingredients which may help support mood, including vegetables (in particular, leafy greens), citrus fruits, beans, pulses and nuts (in particular, Brazil nuts and walnuts). 

You can capitalise on this approach to eating, by helping educate consumers to make more informed choices. Making menus healthier, balanced and providing nutrition information where possible (and appropriate) all helps. But remember, any nutrition or health claims should be made with the support of a registered nutritionist or dietitian, to ensure they are evidence-based and do not mislead consumers. 

Keep in mind, consumers not only want to make better choice for their health, but also better food choice for the planet. In fact, 69% of UK consumers believe there should be more food and drink that’s both healthier and more sustainable. 

Flavours Less Travelled: Caribbean, Mexican, and Eastern European Delights 

In 2024, the food industry is embarking on a journey to explore flavours less travelled which is believed to have come about as a result of travel restrictions during the pandemic, which meant that food was one of the few ways people could experience different cultures. 

Caribbean, Mexican, and Eastern European cuisines such as Polish, Hungarian and Romanian are particularly stealing the spotlight, offering a vibrant and spicy escape from the ordinary. From Cuban empanadas and curry mutton to Mexican street tacos and Eastern European smoked meats, consumers are indulging in a diverse array of tastes and textures. This trend reflects a growing appreciation for the rich culinary heritage of these regions and a desire for bold and exotic dining experiences. With 56% of consumers agreeing that they would be willing to pay more for a dish they perceive as more authentic, here are some authentic ingredients per region to get you started: 

• Caribbean: dishes like jerk, patties/ empanadas, curries or stews that contain salted cod, chicken, mutton, and produce like yam, green banana, lime, mango, pineapple, plantain and coconut. 
• Mexican: dishes like tostadas, tacos al pastor, fajitas, birria, elotes (corn-based dish) and contain ingredients such as mint, corn, tomatoes, avocado, pinto beans, limes, chilli, cheese and coriander. 
• Eastern European: dishes like golabki, stews (e.g. goulash and bigos), soups (like borsch), meatballs and baklava. These include ingredients like smoked meats especially sausage, sauerkraut, mushrooms, paprika, potatoes, cabbage and fresh herbs. 

A good way to trial new cuisines with your consumers is by utilising theme days and adding them as specials as an extension to your main menu or trying them as smaller dishes such as tapas, starters and grab and go items. 

Rustic and Rural: Back to Basics

In an era dominated by innovation, the rustic and rural trend is a breath of fresh air. Consumers are craving the simplicity and authenticity of farm-to-table experiences. Farm-to-table refers to ingredients on menus coming directly from the farm and expressing the provenance of those ingredients down to the farm from which it came. This shows support for local farmers and communities and reduced carbon footprint due to less food miles all of which consumers regard highly. 

The meat industry is responding by championing locally sourced, sustainable meats that showcase the natural flavours of the land. Rustic preparations, such as slow-cooked stews and open-flame grilling, are gaining popularity, bringing a touch of nostalgia to the modern dining experience. For this trend in particular try using lesser-known cuts of meat to really harness this trend. Of course, different trends will appeal to different types of consumers, rustic and rural is better targeted to older consumers that value a more vintage feel. 

76% of people currently find dishes and ingredients that have provenance within the UK appealing and 44% believe they are better quality.  

Let’s Play: Interactive Meat Experiences 

In 2024, the food industry is inviting consumers to play with their food in the most delightful way possible. The “Let’s Play” trend encourages interactive dining experiences, from DIY skewers and tableside grilling to personalised charcuterie boards. The cost-of-living crisis is a key driver of this trend as it is believed this greater experience may encourage people to go out to eat more and spend more as they see it as something they can’t get at home. This trend not only engages diners in the preparation process but also fosters a sense of community and creativity. It’s a celebration of the camaraderie that come with shared meals and interactive culinary adventures.  

‘Let’s play’ is better targeted to younger, city-based consumers as they are more enticed by multisensory experiences. Don’t forget this trend also extends to desserts and drinks, with melting chocolate bombes and smash box desserts, smoking drinks using dry ice and flaming cocktails, make sure to hone in on this playful take on dining in all areas! 

The food industry in 2024 is a dynamic landscape where tradition meets innovation, and local meets global. British fusion, mind, mood, and body, flavours less travelled, rustic and rural, and let’s play are five trends shaping the future of food consumption. As we savour the diverse and exciting flavours of the coming year, one thing is clear – the meat industry is on a journey of culinary exploration, a meal we’re all invited to. 

References: Bidfood and CGA 2023 Trends consumer survey, sample size 2,003 (UK adults)

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