Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trends for 2019

Snacking will take a turn toward the fancy, according to Whole Foods Market.

Pacific Rim flavors, eco-conscious packaging, faux meat snacks and new varieties of hemp-infused products are among the food influences expected to take off in the next year, according to Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trend predictions for 2019.

The fourth annual report was compiled by the retailer’s global buyers and experts, who have more than 100 years of combined experience in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences and participating in food and wellness industry exhibitions worldwide.

Here are the trends:

Pacific Rim flavors — Flavor inspiration from the Pacific Rim (think Asia, Oceania and the western coasts of North and South America) are popping up in grocery stores and restaurants as people continue to explore more of the world through their palates, according to Whole Foods Market. Ingredients like longganisa (a Filipino pork sausage), dried shrimp, cuttlefish and shrimp paste are on restaurant and home menus that span from breakfast to dinner, while tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit and passionfruit are making their way into smoothie bowls and cocktails.

In the coming year, the retailer said its 365 Everyday Value brands will feature a limited collection of sweet products inspired by Pacific Rim fruits like guava tropical vinaigrette, pineapple passionfruit sparkling mineral water, mango pudding mix and passionfruit coconut frozen fruit bars.

Shelf-stable probiotics — Back in 2017, Whole Foods Market’s experts predicted the naturally occurring probiotics in fermented foods like kimchi and “pickled everything” would blow up the food world. In 2019, they say to expect even more innovative probiotic integrations in food — and not just in the supplement or refrigerated aisles. New strains of probiotics such as Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 and Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 are making more shelf-stable applications possible.

Phat fats — Fats are making a comeback, and the trendiest diets are on board, the retailer said in the report. With the rising popularity of keto, paleo, grain-free and even “pegan” (paleo plus vegan) diets, plus a general shifting consumer mindset, fats are starring ingredients in creative, convenient foods.

Next-level hemp — Hemp hearts, seeds and oils are nothing new to food and body care lovers — they’re in everything from waffle mix to dried pastas. But a new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants has many brands looking to explore the booming cannabis biz, the retailer said.

Faux meat snacks — Eating more plants doesn’t mean you have to forgo beloved meaty flavors and textures. Plant-based foods will continue to surprise and inspire — this year taking on the meat-based snacking world of jerkies and pork rinds you may associate with the corner store and road trips, according to the retailer.

Eco-conscious packaging — The number of brands making the switch to packaging with the environment in mind continues to grow at a quickening pace. Some companies are making commitments to ban straws, while Whole Foods Market said it is setting up regional pilots to test recyclable straw-less, sipper lids made from PET, without increasing the plastic content of a lid/straw combination.

Trailblazing frozen treats — While there is something comforting and classic about a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some consumers are wanting something a little less, well, vanilla, the retailer emphasized. The new pints on the block are adding a fresh take on a timeless treat with innovative bases like avocado, hummus, tahini and coconut water. Popsicles and gelatos won’t be left out of the fun — they’ll get some buzz with boozier infusions coming to market. 

Marine munchies, beyond seaweed — Seaweed snacks rose to popularity a few years back, and Whole Foods Market’s experts expect even more ocean influence in the grocery aisles in the year to come. Sea greens are showing up in dishes like seaweed butter and kelp noodles while consumers are exploring new depths of ocean flavors with superfood properties like unique varietals of algae and kelp.

Snack time, upgraded — Snacking across the board will take a turn toward the fancy, and snacks, as they start to usurp the usual three-meals-a-day routine, are anything but ordinary, according to Whole Foods Market. Portable snack packages will feature bites like prosciutto and aged mozzarella, and artisanal versions of classic snacks like cheese or peanut butter cracker sandwiches.

Purchases that empower — Consumer purchasing power continues to motivate changes in the food, beverage and body care industries, as shoppers expect more from the brands and businesses they choose to support. In 2019, Whole Foods Market said that thoughtful consideration behind purchases moves beyond (but doesn’t exclude) environmental stewardship and animal welfare, and becomes more people-focused. For instance, Kuli Kuli produces moringa powder, which is often grown and processed by women, and has provided more than $1.5 million in income to women-led farming cooperatives, nonprofits and family farmers around the world through their organic moringa supply chain.