What’s in store for 2024?

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

(Credit: Getty/ SolStock)
(Credit: Getty/ SolStock)

Related tags Food Wine

Here at The Morning Advertiser, we’ve rounded up some of the key predictions for food, drink and entertainment at pubs in 2024.

Customers want experiences, low alcohol options, but are also looking to premiumise when they go out. Health, provenance and sustainability will also stay key.

Drinks

The appetite for low and no drinks​ is set to continue. Research revealed the number of 18 to 24-year-olds regularly drinking alternatives to alcohol has risen by 13 percentage points during the last two years.

According to The Portman Group’s sixth annual survey in partnership with YouGov, young people are the biggest consumers of low and no alcohol alternatives.

Nearly half (44%) of the 2,197 participants considering themselves either an occasional or regular drinker of alcohol alternatives, compared to 31% in 2022.

Moreover, 23% of those surveyed had also seen a decrease in their alcohol consumption as a result of low and no products, compared with 21% in 2022 while three quarters (75%) said they had at least tried a low and no alcohol alternative, compared to a third (33%) of non-drinkers.

Portman Group chief executive Matt Lambert said: “The availability of alcohol alternatives has never been more abundant, and we eagerly await the outcome of the recent UK Government consultation on low alcohol descriptors, which we hope will further facilitate the growth of the UK low and no alcohol market.”

Bibendum also revealed premiumisation as one their top wine trends​ for 2024, as wine drinkers look to treat themselves when choosing the drink.

Sustainability will also be key for wine drinkers in the on-trade over the next 12-months, though consumers are becoming “detached and distrusting towards corporate pledges”, according to Bibendum.

As purse strings “tighten” wine drinkers also expect to be rewarded for their loyalty, from exclusive membership clubs to loyalty schemes, consumers want to feel “part of a community”, the report added.

Bibendum advised pubs could “deepen ties with their customer base” and tap into this trend by introducing wine clubs, happy hours or exclusive tasting events.

Moreover, while premiumisation could be key to protecting profits with wine next year, consumers will be looking for alternatives to luxury wine, such as Champagne, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.

When it comes to regions, the premium wine specialist predicted Italian variants from Piedmont and Alto Aidge as well as offerings from Portugal, America and South Africa will be trending in the UK on-trade in 2024.

According to the figures, Portuguese wines are still a niche product in the on-trade, accounting for 0.3% of the MAT still wine volumes, but there are already signs of growth with sales up 7.8% compared to last year.

Food

Consumers will be looking for adventurous flavours, healthy and hearty recipes and playful experiences from the on-trade in 2024, according to Bidfood’s 2024 Food & Drink Trends report.

According to the report, the five key areas that will capture spend over the next 12-months were adventurous flavours, British fusion, rustic and rural, playful dishes as well as physical and mental health boosting food.

Bidfood head of corporate marketing and insight Catherine Hinchcliff said: “Value is the main driver at the moment and eating out is increasingly viewed as a treat or for a special occasion, so the stakes are high and operators need to get the offering right.”

According to the report, based on a survey of 1,033 UK adults, 77% of consumers and operators alike see value for money as imperative to decision-making when choosing where to eat and drink out, with discretionary spending impacted by inflation.

In addition, almost half (42%) of those surveyed said they would pay more attention to venues offering deals in the future.

Menus can also play a role in attracting consumers looking for value and adventure, with 30% of respondents also paying more attention to ingredients lists.

Health, provenance and sustainability will continue to play a role in consumer choices.

The report added operators could appeal to consumers senses when looking to offer health-conscious experiences, with 71% of feeling the aroma of food and drink itself could help boost their mood while vibrant and colour dishes allowed them to “eat with their eyes”.

Flavour-wise, consumers will be looking for authentic Mexican, Caribbean and Eastern European dishes, according to the report, with playful and interactive elements.

British fusion was also popular in the survey, with 68% of participants finding the concept appealing.

A report from Lumina Intelligence revealed further food trends for 2024. High levels of inflation persisted through 2023, seeing chain pub and restaurant operators raise the prices of same-line dishes by 8.5% and 6.5% in spring and summer respectively, according to the new data.

Operators are encouraging consumers to spend more by introducing higher-priced new dishes, which are aligned with the current trends towards more premium and sharing options.

Chain restaurants have, however, kept entry price points at the same level to boost value perceptions, while focusing their more significant increases on the highest-priced lines.

Garlic, pickle and mushroom are emerging as the vegetables being most featured, while ‘spiced’ and ‘pickled’ are top of the list of adjectives most used in menu descriptions.

Frugality was central to many product trends in 2023, with interest in cheaper cuts of meat as well as veg-centric and affordable cuisines as many consumers adjusted to financial challenges by becoming thriftier.

Product trends include tinned meat and fish, zero-waste and pea protein.

Entertainment

Guests will continue to look for experiences and entertainment when they go out to entertainment venues.

GigPig​ has predicted that live music will soar in 2024 at pubs, after gigs in the ‘seed’ music industry – those staged in hospitality venues across the UK – soared 37% over the festive season.

GigPig co-founder Kit Muir-Rogers said: “Coupled with the news that venues and artists want to do more in the seed music industry in 2024, it’s an optimistic footing to start the year.”

A Lumina report on trends also reflected this, stating that luxurious and differentiated interiors, live DJs and immersive elements are key features of party dining venues, influenced by the rise of social media and the revival of unused spaces.

The report also predicted social corporate responsibility and streamlining operations would be top business priorities for the coming year with the economy set to stabilise.

Accommodation 

Pubs with rooms website Stay In A Pub​ has predicted pub accommodation to grow in 2024 after it reported a 50% increase in voucher sales over the Christmas period.

The average spend has been £127 per gift with some spending £400 to £500.

Last year, research revealed​​ six in 10 consumers who have stayed in a pub in the past two years would prefer to stay overnight in the on-trade rather than other types of accommodation for the same spend and location.

This figure was up from just over half (53%) in 2019, the study showed. It also outlined how 60% of consumers stated the main reason to stay in a pub is it represents good value for money.

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