How the Foodservice Industry Is Adapting to Better Meet Consumer Needs in 2024

The foodservice industry is poised for some significant shifts in the new year as a result of changing consumer demand and rising trends being seen across the industry, but that said, there are simple, effective solutions for how operators and restaurants can stay ahead of these shifts.

Prioritizing Healthy Living

Wellness remains at the forefront of consumer lifestyle trends and continues to have a large impact on how people choose where and why to spend their capital. At least three out of ten consumers want to be proactive about maintaining good health and nearly 70 percent agree that they try to prevent negative health conditions by living healthily. We are seeing these healthy living trends impact both menu offerings, with a continued rising interest in plant-based offerings and functional beverages, as well as food packaging, with increased consumer concern around chemicals like PFAs.

By adding menu offerings that tap into wellness trends like adaptogens, plant-based proteins, or gut-healthy ingredients, as well as opting for packaging that uses less “forever chemicals” can help to align your brand with these health-conscious consumers.

Sustainability Remains Essential

Beyond just healthy living, consumers are continuing to prioritize the health of the planet with nearly 50 percent of Gen Z and Millennial respondents placing a premium on sustainably sourced products. Heading into 2024, these restaurants, caterers, and other foodservice providers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance that incorporating sustainable practices within their daily operations has on drawing in the growing masses of eco-conscious consumers. In fact, we’ve seen a 40 percent annual increase in food and drink products making some sort of water usage claim over the past four years. 

That said, it is anticipated that even more restaurants will be prioritizing sustainability trends, from sourcing ingredients from regenerative suppliers and farms to opting for eco-friendly packaging, in the coming year. With continued innovations happening across the industry to make these sustainable offerings even more accessible-from online ordering of sustainable food packaging to rapidly expanding plant-based protein options-finding ways to improve the ecological impact of one’s business is easier than ever before.

Personalized Branding: Creating Unique Experiences

Personalization is a key theme in 2024. Foodservice providers are seeking innovative ways to make their brand stand out. Customized branding, from personalized packaging to branded tableware and merch, is becoming a powerful tool for creating memorable dining experiences. These personalized touches not only cater to individual preferences, but also help in building a stronger connection with the brand. Operators should be mindful to do their research to vet out reliable suppliers for their customized goods, as quality or supply chain issues could have the opposite impact on building their brand.

Embracing Technology for Efficiency and Engagement

Technology continues to play a crucial role in the foodservice industry. From AI-driven customer service to advanced supply chain management, technology is enhancing operational efficiency and customer engagement. Automation and smart processes are becoming essential in streamlining operations, reducing labor costs, and improving service quality. In early 2024, Restaurantware will launch the ability for operators to subscribe to recurring deliveries of their chosen products based on their usage, further automating the inventorying and ordering process.