From tech integration to eco-consciousness, here are the trends shaping the food industry at the moment

Well into 2024, the massive food industry predicted by Statista to grow at a CAGR of 6.58% until 2028 is nothing like the world would’ve imagined a year ago. The food sector is breaking with the past as tech advancements, shifting consumer preferences, and rising commitment to sustainability establish the new norm for successful businesses.

From the rise in popularity of eco-conscious food prepping practices to the integration of artificial intelligence and blockchain, some insights offer sneak peeks into the future of the alimentary sector’s backstage. The industry is undergoing such a tremendous transformation that businesses adapting to the following trends will reap colossal benefits soon. So, what are the emerging trends changing the food industry as we know it?

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Eco-consciousness

The food sector is crucial in promoting sustainable activities in an increasingly eco-centric era. Yet, restaurant operations’ toll on our environment is often overlooked. Scratch cooking, or using raw, uncut ingredients instead of prepacked or processed ones in meal preparation in restaurants and beyond, is taking on a leadership role in greening the food industry.

Numerous benefits exceeding the environmental ones stem from the rising trend of scratch cooking, such as less plastic used for heated food items and reduced packaging usage and waste. Moreover, this concept promotes the farm-to-table approach and seasonal and local ingredients in the process. Water conservation is another sector revolutionized by scratch cooking as more and more eateries provide plant-based menu items that reduce the toll on our natural resources. The plant-fueled food market alone, for instance, could rise to a staggering $77.8BN by 2025. Food establishments gain more control over their water footprint, ensuring higher revenue simultaneously with healthier meal options for consumers who care about the origins of their food.

All of these practices considerably slash greenhouse gas emissions as food transportation, packaging, and other processes disappear when other, healthier substitutes are used. Reducing waste in water and packaging while working with local or large-scale sustainable producers brings many benefits to future-oriented businesses. For instance, consumers are incomparably more attracted to an eatery after finding it collaborates with an innovation-focused cocoa manufacturer that excels in sustainable practices. It’s not just the quality of the products that speak for such a shining example, but also the word-of-mouth that promotes such business.

Purposeful eating

For many health-aware individuals, the days you’d eat to feel satiety are long gone. In fact, for many, feeling full beyond capacity represents the primary red flag that they’re not eating with the purpose of their well-being in mind. The food industry has witnessed a tremendous trend toward wholesome eating behaviors as consumers grow more aware of their impact on the overall quality of their lives. Calorie counting is long gone as individuals realize the priority of consuming nutrients, assessing metrics showing the macronutrient intake needed to keep their bodies’ structures, systems, and energy levels up.

With the rising focus on healthy eating come some critical patterns in rebuilding the food industry from the ground up. As everyone seeks to comprehend what they’re consuming, clean labels emerge as decisive attributes bringing businesses up or down. Functional foods see increasing demand as their benefits in improving gut health, the immune system, and so on become more and more recognized and sought-after.

Snacks aren’t gone—they’re receiving a revamp as chips made from carrot, onion, beetroot, zucchini, and other vegetables pick off steam and quietly but surely dethrone the leading oily fried potato crisps. Healthy snacks have risen so much that they registered a 4% rise in sales in the first months of 2024, backed by “healthy snackers” who represent 32% of the U.S. consumer base.

Tech integration

Food businesses must ensure that distributors, suppliers, packagers, and other parties they’re working with adhere to their gold quality and safety standards. In a world where technology has reached every sphere, from food processing to distribution, it’s clear that tech integration is the only way for current businesses to stay ahead of the curve.

Machine learning (ML) can streamline processes from equipment upkeep to yield optimization to quality control. Precision in agriculture is improved when ML algorithms fuse with computer vision and other AI-driven technologies, analyzing all sorts of data such as pest infestation levels, soil conditions, crop safety, and so on.

From smart IOT sensors to satellite imagery, businesses can spot problems with supplies acquired and change providers. To optimize their inventory, food enterprises can assess sales information, approaching events, weather conditions, and so on, approximating future sales. Moreover, new tech tools are underway, such as ML-powered predictive analytics platforms that can estimate the food safety threats that the supply chain’s end participant, the consumer, can handle. These solutions aren’t for the megacorps to implement, but for everyone. If not directly, then by closing deals with future-oriented, trustworthy organizations. You don’t have to spend fortunes on cutting-edge equipment if you work with trustworthy collaborators who have already done it, depending on their business area, be it your cooking tools supplier, nuts manufacturer, or packaging and delivery company we’re talking about.

 

Edible packaging

Lastly, one of the most interesting trends disrupting the food industry and valued at more than $620MN in 2022 only is edible packaging, or the usage of sustainable, biodegradable materials that can be digested. For packaging to pass as edible, it must offer nutritional value and comply with numberless quality standards, ensuring consumers that they aren’t just protecting their health but also adding to their nutritional baggage.

Examples of edible materials you find increasingly more on the market include, but are not limited to, fruits, vegetables, plants, bakery foods, and so on. These give way to boundless options like wrappers made from potato starch and rice paper or edible cutlery. As you’ll see, alternatives are limitless when you seek to hit more targets with one shot, for the food industry leans on innovation.

Long story short

The greenhouse emissions generated from the field to the plate make for a quarter of the total that’s burdening the planet, with high-yield monocultures contributing to land exhaustion, deforestation, mass diseases, and so on. Fortunately, tech advancements, eco-conscious cooking, edible packaging, and other trends gaining steam are reducing the food industry’s impact on the environment and helping consumers meet their dietary goals more easily and deliciously.

Stay close to be posted on the progress of these trends and discover how they’re clearing the path to your own plate, or the dish you’re preparing in the comfort of your home!

By lucija

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