Tracking diet trends is a great way to understand how consumer demand and shifting health and wellness priorities influence healthy eating habits and product development.

In this regard, the Mintel 2024 Global Food and Drink Trends Report states that brands are meeting the demand for healthier living and longevity with products and technology-driven conveniences.

Other important drivers highlighted industry experts include the rising popularity of meat-less and less-meat diets, greater demand for sustainable agriculture and manufacturing, and a growing prominence of whole food ingredients.

We unpack 6 of the biggest diet and healthy eating trends to emerge from a range of leading market trend reports and global analyst predictions.

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1. Putting the plant back in plant-based eating

As vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets grow in popularity, meat-free alternatives are taking up more shelf space than ever. A Research and Markets report projects that the plant-based food market will exceed $75 billion by 2028, up from $41 billion in 2022.

However, consumers are becoming more discerning in the products they choose. According to the Whole Foods Market 2024 Trends Report, putting the ‘plant’ back in ‘plant-based’ is a major trend among meat-less or less-meat eaters, who increasingly prefer whole food ingredients over manufactured meat alternatives that contain artificial ingredients.

2. Bucking the trend

The Whole Foods Market 2024 Trends Report identifies buckwheat as a top 10 trend, with consumers as this superfood contains protein, carbs and fibre, and it is naturally gluten free.

Buckwheat’s growing popularity also has a sustainability slant as it is a popular and effective cover crop that supports soil health, which aligns with the growing demand for environmentally conscious agriculture and eating habits.

Expect to see buckwheat in everything from plant-based milk alternatives to crackers and granola, says the report.

3. Fixated on fungi

Multiple trend reports and predictions from expert panels predict a greater fixation on fungi in 2024.

Culinary professionals from the US Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel agree with the fungi forecast, declaring: “Mushrooms are mushrooming!”

Trend reports from Fresh Thyme Market and Whole Foods affirm the mushrooms mania among consumers due to their nutritional value and suitability in vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets due to their protein content.

As a plant-based protein source that contains all nine amino acids in the mycoprotein, derived from mycelium in the root system, mushrooms will increasingly emerge as a popular meat alternative.

The Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights also noted the significant rise in fungi consumption since 2018 and named mushrooms an up-and-coming ingredient in 2024.

Expect functional mushroom powders to emerge as a growing trend for use in numerous dishes, including soups or broths for added health benefits.

4. Ultra-processed must fall

According to the 2024 Mintel Global Food and Drink Trends report, consumers will increasingly shun ultra-processed food options, opting instead for traditional whole food ingredients and products produced using natural techniques, like fermentation and more health-conscious processes like cold-pressing – a technique that uses less heat and oxygen in the production process to retain nutrients and flavour.

5. Gut health

Based on findings from the latest Future of Wellness research by McKinsey, which surveyed more than 5,000 consumers across China, the UK, and US, more than 80% of respondents considered gut health an important consideration in the foods and supplements they buy and consume. In addition, over 50% anticipate making it a higher priority in the next two to three years.

The research found that probiotic supplements are the most frequently used gut health products in China and the United States, while UK consumers opt for probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, kombucha, or yoghurt.

6. Hydration fixation

Water will keep making waves as one of the biggest nutrition trends in 2024 as social media continues to pump up the H2O hype, with #WaterTok consistently topping trend lists.

The popularity and health appeal of hitting your daily water target now supports a thriving hydration category, with consumers turning to water tracking apps, wearable hydration sensors and a growing range of bottles, quench cups and super-sized hydrators.

Water enhancers, flavour infusions, and electrolyte powders and tabs are also popular additions to add variety, taste and added health benefits to the hydration experience.