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Made to order: Delicious food trends for your 2024 menu

January 29, 2024

Sometimes, our food acts as boring, necessary fuel to keep us upright, cognitive, and moving forward. It’s not exciting or adventurous; it’s utilitarian, with meals void of the creativity necessary to make it into something special. 

But not always. Thankfully.

With its myriad flavors and infinite possibilities, food can be a source of excitement, entertainment, or genuine salvation, with tastes that can wrestle us from the grips of despair. Sounds dramatic, but have you ever had a meal that turned around your day or implanted the deepest sense of satisfaction in your soul (or stomach)? This is its power, and every year, culinary professionals and home chefs alike are eager to find new ways to vary the impact of mere morsels.

This year is no different. New trends abound, ready to expand menu possibilities—and provide regular escape from our bland oatmeal and sad turkey sandwiches. Compiled by our in-house research team, here are some of the food trends we’re watching in 2024.  

Down on the (urban) farm

In many areas of the U.S., urban neighborhoods—once dotted with corner grocers or pop-up produce stands—have become food deserts with vital, nutritional sustenance absent from where it’s needed the most. Enter the trend of urban farming with residents and restauranteurs pursuing produce grown everywhere from community gardens to apartment building rooftops and cultivated in responsible, sustainable ways. 

Escape to the islands

If entrée flavors can provide an escape from the daily grind, where better to be transported than to a beachfront table in the islands? Whether within traditional dishes and small plates or ones with exotic flair, ingredients like pineapple, passionfruit, and toasted coconut plan to imprint orders with a sought-after Caribbean vibe throughout the calendar year—and provide an edible paradise for awaiting 2024 tastebuds.   

Fire up the (international) BBQ

Are Carolina, Kansas City, and Texas barbeque all still a must-taste? Of course—but this year, culinary dynamos will be looking to expand their grilling specialties to meet the needs of customers now accustomed to international tastes. According to the food trend-focused Cozymeal, spice profiles from the Middle East, Mediterranean, and South America will be on the rise, alongside an expansion of Korean and Thai BBQ favorites.

Tastes so retro

We’ve seen it with fashion, music, and film—so why not with food? Yes, what was once passe is now on-point (if people still say that) when it comes to culinary trends. FoodBytes’ annual breakdown notes that methods like in-house pickling, mini dessert plates, and cocktail throwbacks like the once-chic espresso martini have rejoined the chat and are bringing plenty of Generation X flavor to the Gen Z table. Can the return of pizza-flavored snacks or red ales be far behind? Stay tuned (and hungry).

Plant-based goes mainstream—in a good way

According to a recent report from Nestle, 70%of the U.S. population now consumes plant-based foods, up from 66% in 2023. This is no longer a small percentage; this is most of American consumers, and they’re now familiar—and fans—of these options in all their creative iterations. (See: plant-based seafood.) And now that a “flexitarian” younger generation has joined an aging population eager to pursue a healthier diet, selections once earmarked for vegans and vegetarians are now for all—and growing more delicious by the day. 

Want to learn more about The Martin Group’s work in the food and beverage industry? Click here.

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