3 Key F&B trends driving India’s food & beverage industry in 2024

Personal health, sustainability, and enhanced sensorial experiences are the biggest consumer themes that will shape the sector in the country
3 Key F&B trends driving India’s food & beverage industry in 2024
Photo - Kerry

Consumer behavior has changed significantly in recent years and continues to evolve rapidly, influencing food and beverage trends.

Recent Kerry proprietary insights on the future of food and beverages, show that consumers in India continue to prioritize their personal health by placing more importance on self-care. They are also adapting to a more sustainable lifestyle that focuses on conscious consumption and knowing where their food comes. New sensorial experiences, particularly around traditional flavors and modern twists, are in demand. At the same time, they are also indulging more, as seen in the growing prominence of premium ingredients.

But how can product and menu developers tap on these trends to develop food and beverages people want? Understanding the flavors, ingredients and trends that will shape what we consume, is essential in guiding successful food innovation.

Consumers love fresh interpretations of traditional flavors

The Asian consumer is heavily influenced by the region’s diverse cultural traditions. According to Kerry research, Asia Pacific consumers are rediscovering the magic of their own culinary heritage while looking for unique regional ingredients and flavor profiles. Findings from FMCG Gurus on innovative flavors mirror this, with 55% of consumers worldwide rating traditional flavors as a key influence on their food and drink choices.

Globalization has also had a hand in introducing new international flavors to Indian consumers. For example, proprietary insights from Kerry’s 2024 Taste Charts show that locals are riding the K-wave as Korean flavors like gochujang and kimchi debut on the list. Other trending savory flavors such as Szechuan, teriyaki, Thai curry, tom yum, and cajun indicate that consumers are looking for global fusion flavors. Elsewhere in the world, you’ll see this in unlikely pairings like Thai curry with miso and rendang with gochujang in Thailand, Sichuan peppercorn ice cream in China, calamansi-infused yogurt in the Philippines, or black sesame latte in Japan.

In the greater Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (APMEA) region, there is also growing consumer interest in fermented foods and the health benefits they offer, from antioxidant to anti-inflammatory properties, leading to innovative dishes like charcoal-grilled skewers with fermented chilli paste. By harnessing the depth and complexity that fermented flavors bring, industry players can create products that satisfy the consumer craving for modern updates of their favorite traditional food.

Hot and spicy flavors are on fire

Kerry insights show that consumers are developing sophisticated taste preferences, and bold flavors like hot and spicy appeal to many. People are always up for a challenge and enjoy pushing their boundaries when it comes to hot and spicy foods. Millennials and Gen Z even regard the ability to eat hot and spicy food a life skill.

While the demand is widespread across the globe, hot and spicy is part of the Asian DNA with almost every cuisine claiming a variation of a chilli condiment. People want familiar spices but are also open to new types, further fanning the trend.

Insights from Kerry’s Taste Charts show that Indian consumers are going beyond generic chilli and spicy flavors. Different types of chillis and their distinct, specific tastes are key components in many food categories. Green chili, chipotle, Szechuan, peri peri, sriracha, ghost chili, habanero chilli, and jalapeno chilli are all trending locally. People are also keen on complex and nuanced heat experiences that, at the same time, offer authentic and exotic flavors. This includes region-specific spices, chillies and hyperlocal flavors.

Wellness and sustainability influence dietary habits

The emphasis on self-care has evolved from mere health-consciousness, to prioritizing health in food choices. A FMCG Gurus report on consumer perceptions on health and wellness show that 68% of global consumers have actively sought to improve their diet in the last two years.

Asia Pacific is unique in that consumers view sustainability and transparency as inherent to their wellbeing — the source of their food directly influences the quality of their health. The preference for local ingredients is strong; beverage flavors such as mango, masala, cardamom, saffron in combination with nuts like almond, cashew, pistachio and much more complex flavors like kulfi, rasmalai are gaining popularity, indicating a resurgence of pride in local ingredients. This holds potential for innovation in sustainable flavors and solutions – people want food that supports their health and that they feel good eating.

Likewise when it comes to beverages, Kerry Taste Charts data also reveals a rise in functional ingredients. Honey, ashwagandha, moringa, and fenugreek are piquing interest for their perceived health benefit that claims to boost mental alertness and physical performance.

As local consumer needs evolve, newer ingredients are appearing under an emerging premium category, indicating a demand for indulgence, which has led to the growing popularity of avocado, ruby chocolate, truffle, parmesan, cream cheese, sea salt, pesto, and yuzu.

Globally, Yuzu can be seen in recent launches like yuzu gose in South Africa, yuzu and pepper mayonnaise in China, and Yuzu low ABV wines and alcoholic beverages in Australia. What’s more, cold beverage passionfruit flavor appeared in 13 different global regions in Kerry’s Taste Charts, including as a key ingredient in India.

When it comes to plant-based products, health and sustainability concerns continue to be driving factors, but now novel flavours in meat and dairy alternatives are capturing consumer tastes. This has led to the rise of plant-based ingredients in many food and beverage offerings in India, such as almond milk, oat milk, chickpeas, jackfruit, rajma, lentils, and almond flour.

Understanding and delivering on market preferences

Today’s rapidly changing times often present challenges for food manufacturers and brands trying to deliver food and beverages people value. People have always been led by taste, especially when buying a product. Year on year, Kerry Taste Charts have become a reference tool for various stages of product development, whether brands are looking to add new offerings or check if their current product flavors are still in demand. Awareness is key; knowing that savory flavors typically common in food are entering the beverage category for instance, can help influence innovation and development and help manufacturers identify where they can add the most value for their consumers.

To access the 2024 Kerry Taste Charts for the region of your choice, please click here.

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