Four consumer trends to watch in 2024

Tim Opie, Fonterra's GM of Global Consumer and Customer Insights, unpacks key trends for 2024

13 Feb 2024

7 min

#Blog #Global #All Categories #Nutrition

At the end of 2023, I was flooded with reports from various sources claiming to have the latest trends for the coming year. At one point, I counted 164 consumer trends reports waiting in my inbox. And while each was an interesting read, the overall points rarely differed from one to the next.

But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Macro trends are stable, and their high-level attributes stick around for years. What does change are the specifics, and even at the smallest level, these can have a transformative effect on an industry.

So for most businesses this year, the destination is unlikely to shift. But how we get there will. And to start that journey, we’re diving into four consumer trends that will be pushing the tide in 2024.

Set sail on a culinary adventure

The past three years have not been kind on our palates. With the Covid-19 pandemic, global lockdowns, and now a cost of living crisis, consumers have been faced with limited choices when it comes to food and beverages.

But as the world regains its balance and settles into its new normal, exploring unchartered territories in flavours and cuisines is back on the menu. More than 82% of global consumers are occasionally or frequently on the look out for new foods or flavours to try1, and 32% of global consumers are most influenced by how exciting or novel a cuisine is2.

And consumers are vocal about it too. Food experiences that hold an adventurous claim has seen a 51% growth in consumer interest year-on-year, followed closely by unique at 48% and creative at 38%3.

That’s not to say that all flavours and cuisines must be completely new, excitement can still be drawn from the past. Nostalgia is a sentimental opportunity for brands, with 65% of global consumers saying they enjoy products that remind them of their past4. Long-standing brands can leverage their nostalgic appeal and reputation to re-embrace familiar flavours and foods, giving consumers a joyful experience while providing a sense of security from the good old days.

NZMP pink cheese cake Dairy Foods

Navigating the art of healthy ageing

Living to 100 years old was once seen as an absolute marvel, but it is becoming increasingly more achievable. In the United States, the number of Americans aged 100 and over is projected to more than quadruple over the next 30 years5. To put that into perspective, one in every two 5 year olds alive right now in the U.S. will likely live to 1006.

And yet, the thought of longevity terrifies many as they envisage their inevitable decline in physical health and mental cognition as they age. More than 80% of global consumers aged over 35 showed concern over their physical health, and 63% were concerned for their mental wellbeing7. Interestingly, the highest level of concern is found within the 25 to 34 age range, indicating that the drive for healthy ageing is taking root at an earlier stage7.

There’s a big opportunity for food and beverage brands to address this concern. In 2023, over 41% of food and drink products launched had at least one health and wellness claim, whereas only 0.03% of food and drink products launched were targeted at an ageing population8. Brands can close this gap by tailoring their messaging and product positioning, not just within the older groups, but engaging all consumers as they age.

Journey to the core

It’s astonishing that the phrase “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are” was first published nearly 200 years ago. Nowadays, consumers are well aware of the link between what they eat and how they feel. Almost 90% of global consumers are looking to improve their general health and wellness, and 54% are actively looking for food or beverages with added health benefits9.

But consumers searching for a holistic approach to inner wellness can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities that they can go down when it comes to foods, ingredients, and functional benefits. With 52% of global consumers interested in mood-enhancing or wellbeing claims in food and drink, 49% in gut health claims, 46% in fatigue reduction, and so on, brands face a challenge in determining their focus9.

The gap between consumer desires and their behaviours can guide us to the right direction for inner wellness. Consumers want sleep, immunity and long term health, but struggle to address the deficiency9. Brands can capitalise on this opportunity gap to develop products that both engages consumers and fulfils their need for good nutrition.

NZMP Perspective graph in Consumer Trends article

Source: FMCG Gurus

Sustainability and the role of regenerative agriculture

No article on consumer trends is complete without a mention of sustainability. We all know the quest for environmental health is no longer a mere preference, but a decisive factor in purchasing decisions. And brands have actively followed this trend, with 33% of food and drink products having at least one sustainability claim in 2023, compared to 26% in 20198.

But as more products promote their green efforts, sustainability alone may no longer be sufficient. Consumers increasingly concerned about environmental health recognise the potential negative impact of food production on the planet, particularly as climate change and population growth stress our already strained food supply chains10.

Regenerative agriculture likely has an important role to play in helping to address these challenges. Focusing on better outcomes for key resources such as soil, water, biodiversity, climate, and animals, it's easy to see why 80% of global consumers have greater trust in brands that practice regenerative agriculture.10  

In particular, 72% of U.S. consumers agree that they would be more likely to purchase from retailers and brands that implement regenerative agriculture practices, and 63% would pay more for these products11. Brands that incorporate regenerative agriculture into their sustainability strategies can potentially enhance consumer perception, strengthen trust, and heighten consideration for purchase.

Embarking into 2024

Dairy can play an important role across many trends, these four included. Given the prevailing focus on health and wellness, the nutritional benefits of dairy continue to play an important role in consumer diets. Its connection to digestive health and immune support as an example, particularly with dairy products like yoghurt, aligns nicely with consumer interests9.

And with the growing emphasis on healthy aging, especially around mobility, new opportunities arise for dairy as the world population gets older. Known for its rich source of calcium to maintain bone growth, plus natural protein for energy, dairy is well placed to support the trend towards healthy ageing.

The re-emergence of consumer appetite to explore new flavours and cuisine provides an exciting avenue for dairy innovation. Cheese is a great example of a product that can transform and delight, providing solutions to suit local sensory preferences for a range of occasions from snacking to culinary creations. In Asia alone, a region that traditionally does not consume much dairy, cheese purchases has increased by 9% since 201812.

Amid these opportunities, the health of the planet remains a priority for global markets and brands, including Fonterra. Through partnerships with our customers, numerous sustainability initiatives are underway to help achieve our sustainability goals and targets, both on and off-farm. Click the button below to learn more about Fonterra’s Climate Roadmap.


Tim Opie

GM Global Consumer & Customer Insights, Global Markets

Tim joined Fonterra in early 2010 and has held a variety of roles in the Insights, Capability and Marketing space. As the General Manager of Global Consumer & Customer Insights for Global Markets, Tim has a hand in the full end-to-end development process for Fonterra’s key brands, from insights generation and front end ideation, through to customer acceptance and commercialisation. Tim has over 20 years of FMCG experience spanning agency, consultancy and client-side roles, and has been the driving force behind many successful brands and partnerships.

The views expressed above are the opinion of the author, not those of Fonterra, and Fonterra is not responsible for any decisions taken in reliance on the same.

  • 1. Mintel, Global Consumer Food & Drink, September 2023
  • 2. GlobalData, Consumer Survey 2022 Q4, November 2022
  • 3. Tastewise, Flavour and beyond intuition: Top flavour and ingredient trends for 2024, April 2023
  • 4. Mintel, The Holistic Consumer, September 2023
  • 5. Pew Research Center, U.S. centenarian population is projected to quadruple over the next 30 years, January 2024
  • 6. Time, More Americans Are Living to 100. Get Ready for the Super-Aging Era, October 2023
  • 7. GlobalData, Consumer Survey 2023 Q4, November 2023
  • 8. Mintel GNPD
  • 9. FMCG Gurus, Health and Wellness 2023 Q1, 2023
  • 10. FMCG Gurus, The Needs for Regenerative Farming, May 2023
  • 11. ADM, Farming for the Future: The State of Regenerative Agriculture Program Adoption, November 2023
  • 12. Euromonitor, Cheese 2018 - 2023

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