Trends & Outlook Into 2024

Dec 27

As we prepare for the start of another new year, Philadelphia Macaroni Company has kept an eye on food trends exhibited at trade shows and reported by retailers, foodservice operators, and market intelligence firms. Many of the general ideas remain stable, but the products within are experiencing new innovations each year.

Health & Wellness

Retail Trend: Consumers remain interested in plant-based and sustainable foods, though the food industry is expecting a shift towards products made with fewer ingredients and stronger sustainability claims. Examples include alternative grains and flours, which offer benefits such as high fiber and protein content, and upcycled products, which are made with byproducts from the manufacturing process and ultimately reduce food waste while sharing similar nutritional benefits.

PMC Perspective: Pasta is a simple, nutritious, and delicious plant-based food made with minimal ingredients – flour, water, and enrichment! Pasta’s natural protein content and golden color come from semolina, and many pasta brands choose to further enrich their products with important vitamins and minerals such as iron and folic acid. In addition to being a strong plant-based product, pasta is also a sustainable choice, as most pasta cartons are fully recyclable. PMC works with customers on their sustainable wheat goals, and our Minot Milling division sources grain from growers who use sustainable methods, including organic and regenerative agricultural practices.

Flavor & Product Innovation

Retail Trend: Going into 2024, instant noodles are taking share as consumers prove their love for convenience and new flavor variations. Market intelligence firms suggest that 2024 may see a shift towards European flavors, such as Italian food, after a few years of Asian-inspired product trends.

Foodservice Trend: Foodservice operators are leaning into the comfort food trend. As the winter holidays come and go, soups and stews are a great way to combine flavors in a comforting and affordable format. When it comes to flavor, heat took the top spot in 2023 and is expected to continue popularity in the new year.

PMC Perspective: Pasta is the perfect vessel for any type of cuisine, and is found in variations around the world. Not only is pasta a great neutral meal base, but each shape provides a unique texture that enhances the taste of the meal. The general rule is, the heartier the sauce and flavor, the thicker the pasta. With hundreds of shapes to choose from and a whole world of flavor possibilities, there is no limit to the creativity of cooking with pasta.

Value, Convenience & Experience

Retail Trend: Consumers remain focused on affordability and value, experimenting with new products that fit their budget. In response, retailers are adjusting their focus to ensure consistent high quality and taste in their private label portfolios as they strive to provide high-value, affordable products to the consumer. 

Foodservice Trend: The “off-premises” consumer has taken share in restaurant audiences over the years, and operators are now focused on maintaining this audience. As consumers try to save on the costs of convenience, operators are expected to focus on drive-thru and takeout innovation, including “to-go” versions of apps and operations. For the consumers who choose to dine in, detailed menus are taking share to help the consumer make more educated and confident decisions. In addition, social media enables consumers to share their experiences with the world, which can be especially powerful for operators with unique and buzzworthy menus or limited-time offerings (LTOs).

PMC Perspective: When it comes to value, pasta remains a popular choice for individuals and families, both in the grocery store and when dining out. Due to its simple ingredient makeup and processing, wheat-based pasta is high-value, affordable meal base. In the foodservice sphere, PMC was also thrilled to hear about the return of Olive Garden’s Never-Ending Pasta Bowl this year, and the continued love that people have for pasta!

Industry Outlook

Retail Outlook: According to FMI’s Power of Private Brands 2023 Report, about half of consumers are buying private label products often. In response, retailers’ private label (AKA “store brand”) products are showing strong growth and continued demand.

Foodservice Outlook: The foodservice industry has rebounded from the pandemic and is expected to return to a normal growth trajectory in 2024. Foodservice operators are expected to focus on competitive pricing and providing a unique consumer experience, including leveraging technology, menus, and services to stay top-of-mind to the consumer. 

PMC Outlook: While consumers remain interested in health-focused foods, they are also interested in products that prioritize environmental health and sustainability. Flavor trends continue making their way around the globe as we search for unique flavor inspiration. Given the current financial climate, consumers are looking for value, convenience, and experience, both at home and away from home. Ultimately, PMC sees continued strong demand for pasta across retail and foodservice distribution channels, and we are excited for the opportunities that 2024 offers!

Sources: Whole Foods, ADM, Specialty Food Association, Food Marketing Institute, Datassential, National Restaurant Association, Technomic, The Food Institute / Hottovy, Nation’s Restaurant News.