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Poised for success in 2024

The trends driving change in our industry reflect evolving consumer priorities, shifting economic realities, and changes in decision-maker demographics.  Consumer concerns like health, sustainability, and transparency cross generations and demographics, in every category and segment.  Operators who respond to these concerns and to today’s more demanding consumer expectations will be poised for success in 2024.  


As we look ahead to 2024, several key trends that emerged in 2023 will continue to shape the restaurant industry.   


AMPHuman health and wellness will remain top of mind for consumers. Brands and operators will need to highlight fresh, high-quality ingredients and provide nutrient-dense menu options to appeal to the 79% of patrons who base their restaurant choice on the availability of healthy menu items at least some of the time.  


Our research has shown that “healthy” can mean various different things to different diners.  Defining that word on your menu – whether by addressing the majority of diners who want lower salt or sugar; those who want less-processed, more natural foods; or those who worry about antibiotic use in farm animals – will help patrons identify your operation as an ally in pursuing their health goals. 


For the 32% of consumers on weight-loss diets or who use weight-loss drugs like Ozempic, “healthy” can also relate to appropriate portion sizes and healthy, snackable options.   


Environmental sustainability and climate change will also influence dining trends. Portion size also addresses the concern expressed by 71% of consumers about food waste.  Back of house efficiency benefits your operation in reduced costs and, communicated correctly to consumers, in increased sales and loyalty.   


We also see more and more interest in ocean-friendly foods like algae, seaweed, and Blue Zones diets and practices.  In our latest research consumers gave us detailed answers about ways they’re looking to the ocean for their own health and as a resource and habitat to be protected. 


Animal welfare has become a priority for 65% of consumers.  Operators can differentiate themselves by using – and conveying to customers – locally sourced, sustainable or ethically sourced products.   


Our Autumn, 2023 research investigated some of the language used to distinguish livestock and found that operators need to provide education and careful messaging. Terms like grass-fed, free-range and regenerative appeal to consumers but we found gaps in awareness and confidence.  


Diet Drivers 2: Why we eat what we eat and what we do differently as a resultUltimately, taste remains paramount. Consumers want food that reflects their values and diet, but exceptional flavor is non-negotiable. Successful operators will address health, sustainability, and ethics while delivering craveable dishes people want to eat. These overlapping trends provide ample innovation opportunities for the year ahead.  


The statistics referenced above were from Elohi’s February 2023 “Diet Drivers” consumer research, which sheds light on emerging consumer preferences—from sugar reduction to sustainability and cleaner ingredient statements. "Diet Drivers 2," available soon, delves deeper into the ways consumer beliefs translate into consumer behaviors and the ways they impact food innovations like upcycling and regenerative agriculture.  

Interested in more info about the forces driving foodservice in 2024?  Reach out --