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Food Trends 2024: Back to Nature


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Back to nature! Photo courtesy of M Culinary


By Renee Loux


Plant-based foods are one of the biggest food trends 2024 to hit the catering and event scene in a long time and it's not going anywhere. In fact, it's only growing stronger as companies bring more creativity and great products to the table. Here are three trends, and several companies that support them, to watch in 2024 from plant-based proteins to upcycling to prevent food waste.


Trend: Single-Ingredient Plant-Based Proteins without all the fake stuff

The novelty of highly-processed plant-based proteins is waning, and the rise in plant-based proteins with simpler, more whole ingredients, without processed fillers is one to watch. Notable companies to watch are:


CHI Foods, organic plant-based meats made with powerhouse superfood sacha-inchi. Keto- and peleo-friendly, certified organic, single-ingredient protein, and free of fillers and highly-processed ingredients. The texture is like pulled pork and the flavor offerings include Chorizo, Italian Herb and Original. One 10 ounce package boasts 44 grams of protein.

 

Pumfu is a pumpkin seed-based protein with a firm texture like firm tofu, but nuttier, packed with protein, and a sponge for flavor. Flavors include Original, which is like a super firm tofu made from two ingredients, organic pumpkin seeds and water; flavor-forward Sausage Crumble and Chorizo Crumble and nostalgic-flavored Sloppy Joe. One 8 ounce package offers 34 grams of protein.

 

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Mushroom Tacos from Fable Foods

‘Shrooms!

At this year's plant-based Expo West 2024, mushrooms were still hot as meat alternatives. Their umami-flavor, robust texture, naturally occurring protein and nutrient-dense profile make them ideal for a range of food applications. Brands to watch include:


MyForest Foods, offering a whole new way to meatless with mycelium via a salty-sweet-savory “whole-cut” vegan bacon product that is garnering a lot of attention. 

 

Meati Foods mushroom root-based cuts of steaks and chicken have gotten nods from Sweetgreen and Momofuku. Juicy texture, simple ingredients, and nutrient-rich protein-power make Meati a portrait of plant-based innovation.

 

OmniFoods debuted a Lion’s Mane mushroom steak in 2024 that created a lot of buzz at the World Expo conference this year. It's known in the industry as a “new generation of fungi innovation”


Upcycled Foods

Sustainability is larger than just plant-based foods. Thirty eight percent of food in the U.S. is wasted, contributing to a massive waste of water, land, labor and resources. To combat this, the use of upcycled foods makes use of ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away, like imperfect tomatoes, mushroom stems, spent grains from beer-making and pulp from juices to create innovative, value-added products that are delicious, nutritious and environmentally sound.

Plant-based food | ecep trend report | renee loux | ecep
Hello I'm Ugly uses fruit only a farmer would love to upcycle food and prevent food waste.

For instance, The Ugly Co. offers all natural fruit snacks with cheeky names like Hello! I’m Ugly, made with fruit only a farmer could love. Founded to give funny fruit that would otherwise be discarded a new lease on life, these products remind us not to judge a fruit by its cover. These all natural snacks.


Matriark Foods upcycled tomato sauce and broths are praised by chefs and approved by climate scientists, made with surplus ingredients that would otherwise be bound for the landfill. Matriark Foods makes it easy to eat like an activist and fight climate change in a flavor-forward way.


Spudsy upcycles imperfect sweet potatoes into crunchy, crave-worthy savory-sweet Sweet Potato Puffs and Sweet Potato fries. Considering that over 150 million pounds of sweet potatoes are discarded annually in the U.S. due to minor flaws and imperfections like size, shape and colors, Spudsy is doing the world a lot of good reimagining classic snack foods with a healthy, sustainable twist.


While we are using the term "trend" here, sustainable catering practices are not a fad. They are harbingers of the way we will want to eat in coming years.



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Renee Loux

RENÉE LOUX has been a leader in plant-based eating for more than 25 years. She is a celebrated raw foods chef and former co-owner of the Raw Experience restaurant in Maui. She facilitates health retreats and workshops worldwide which incorporate whole living foods into a balanced lifestyle.

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