As we move swimmingly into 2024, the seafood industry is undergoing a culinary transformation! From inventive fusions to a heightened focus on holistic health and wellbeing, the landscape is adapting to accommodate diverse tastes and preferences.

Influences such as the cost-of-living crisis, sustainability concerns, and health consciousness are shaping consumer approaches to food. Our research reveals that 65% of consumers dine out as a treat, and 55% do so to mark special occasions. In this blog post, we examine compelling food trends reshaping the industry in 2024 and how you can leverage them for your benefit.   

Eating out in a restaurant

Mind, Mood, and Body: A Health-Conscious Lifestyle 

As awareness grows around the links between food and health and wellbeing (both physical and mental), the seafood industry is embracing a holistic approach to consumption. Mind, mood and body isn’t just a fad, it represents making informed food and drink choices to give our bodies the nutrients they need, a concept which will continue to resonate with UK consumers in 2024.  

Consumers seek balanced meals with a variety of options and are interested in foods which provide omega-3s (a type of healthy fat) and other nutrients that may help support mood. Fish are a good source of omega-3s, in particular oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, trout and sardines. Chefs can also include a variety of ingredients which may help support mood, including vegetables (in particular, leafy greens), fruits, beans, pulses and nuts (in particular, Brazil nuts and walnuts). 

To capitalise on this approach, focus on healthier, balanced menus and recipes (including a wide variety of foods in the right proportions) and support customers to make informed decisions by providing information where possible. But remember, any nutrition or health claims should be made with the support of a registered nutritionist or dietitian, to ensure they are evidence-based and do not mislead consumers.  

Consumers are not only looking out for their health but also making choices that are better for the planet as 69% of UK consumers believe there should be more food and drink that’s both healthier and more sustainable. 

Rustic and Rural: Bringing Basic Back  

In an era dominated by innovation, the rustic and rural trend brings simplicity and authenticity to the forefront. Consumers crave dock-to-dish experiences, showcasing support for local fishmongers and communities while reducing carbon footprints. 

The seafood industry is responding with locally sourced, sustainable fish and seafood that highlight the natural flavours of the ocean. Rustic preparations, such as one pot stews, wood-fired oven cooking and open-flame grilling, are gaining popularity, evoking nostalgia in the modern dining experience. Consider using the more underutilised, sustainable species to fully embrace this trend, which tends to appeal to older consumers seeking a vintage feel. 

76% of people find dishes and ingredients with provenance within the UK appealing, and 44% believe they are of better quality. 

Flavours Less Travelled: Caribbean, Mexican, and Eastern European Delights 

In 2024, the food industry is venturing into flavours that are less explored by many, influenced in part by travel restrictions during the pandemic. Caribbean, Mexican, and Eastern European cuisines are taking the spotlight, offering vibrant alternatives to the ordinary. 

Consumers are indulging in a diverse array of tastes, from Jamaican ackee and saltfish and salted cod fritters to Mexican baja fish tostadas and Romanian fish soup. This trend reflects a growing appreciation for the rich culinary heritage of these regions and a desire for bolder and more exotic dining experiences. 

With 56% of consumers willing to pay more for authenticity, so consider incorporating authentic ingredients from other regions into your offerings. 

Let’s Play: Interactive Seafood Experiences  

In 2024, the food industry invites consumers to play with their food in delightful ways. The “Let’s Play” trend promotes interactive dining experiences, from DIY skewers and tableside grilling to personalised charcuterie boards. 

Driven by the cost-of-living crisis, this trend aims to enhance the dining experience, encouraging people to go out more and spend more. It not only engages diners in the preparation process but also fosters a sense of community and creativity. This playful trend is particularly appealing to younger, city-based consumers who are enticed by multisensory experiences. 

Extend this trend to drinks and desserts, incorporating out-of-the-box elements like dry ice to create a smoking drink, light up ice cubes or doughnuts with jam syringes to embrace a more playful side of dining. 

British Fusion: A Symphony of Flavours 

Traditional boundaries no longer confine fish dishes as the British fusion trend sweeps through the food industry in 2024. This trend involves merging British foods, formats, and dishes with global cuisines. Chefs are skilfully combining quintessential British ingredients with international flavours, resulting in a seamless blend that transcends borders. 

Consumers, who already enjoy a variety of cuisines, find British Fusion appealing as it bridges the gap between familiar and loved flavours and the excitement of trying new tastes. This trend celebrates culinary diversity and underscores the versatility of British cuisine. Imagine curried crab cakes infused with Indian spices or Cajun battered shrimp in place of classic scampi. 

The top 10 preferred British fusions, in order of popularity, include Chinese, Indian, Italian, American, Mexican, Spanish, Thai, Korean, Moroccan, and Lebanese. 

The food industry in 2024 is a dynamic blend of tradition and innovation, mixing flavours far and wide. British fusion, mind, mood, and body, flavours less travelled, rustic and rural, and let’s play are the five trends shaping the future of food consumption. As we savour the diverse and exciting flavours of the coming year, it’s evident that the seafood industry is embarking on a culinary exploration, and everyone is invited to the feast.

References: Bidfood and CGA 2023 Trends consumer survey, sample size 2,003 (UK adults)

Our team are on hand to support you and discuss your requirements in order to provide the best fresh ingredients for your dishes.         

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