Whole Foods predicts top 10 food trends for 2018
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market yesterday revealed what it predicts will be the top food trends for the year ahead. The retailer expects these products and ingredients to take off in 2018:
- Floral flavors. From adding whole flowers and petals into dishes to infusing botanical flavors into drinks and snacks, this trend makes for a subtly sweet taste and fresh aromatics, according to Whole Foods. Look for flowers used similarly to herbs in drinks such as lavender lattés, the retailer suggests. Bright pink hibiscus teas are a part of the trend, while elderflower is often added to cocktails and bubbly drinks. Several of Whole Foods’ store brand SKUs feature floral flavors, including Whole Foods Market Lime Mint Elderflower Italian Sparkling Mineral Water and 365 Everyday Value Lavender Lemonade Tea Bags with Hibiscus.
- Super powders. Because nutrient-dense, functional food powders are so easy to incorporate into other foods, they’ve found their way into lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods. For an energy boost or an alternative to coffee, powders such as matcha, maca root and cacao are showing up in mugs everywhere, Whole Foods stated. Ground turmeric powder is still on the rise, while spirulina, kale, herbs and roots are being added to smoothies. Protein powders have evolved beyond bodybuilders to pack in new nutrients such as skin- and hair-enhancing collagen, the retailer noted. Whole Foods Market Spirulina Powder and Whole Foods Market Apple Cider Vinegar Turmeric Ginger Sparkling Tonic are two private brand examples of the trend.
- Functional mushrooms. Traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements, functional mushrooms such as reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane today are featured in products across categories. Bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas are leading applications of functional mushrooms. The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee flavors, Whole Food stated. The mushrooms are also used in soap and skincare products.
- Feast from the Middle East. Middle Eastern culinary influences have become mainstream. While hummus, pita and falafel were entry points, consumers are now exploring regional nuances and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences rising to the top, according to Whole Foods. Spices such as harissa, cardamom and za’atar are hitting more menus, as well as dishes such as shakshuka, grilled halloumi and lamb. Other trending Middle Eastern ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, tomato jam and dried fruits. Whole Foods offers 365 Everyday Value Organic Tahini; bulk pistachios and dried fruit; and seasonal spring salad bar item made with carrots, pomegranate molasses and harissa.
- Transparency 2.0. “More is more when it comes to product labeling,” according to Whole Foods. Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top of mind, but shoppers seek out other details as well such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards, stated the retailer. Beginning in January 2018, all canned tuna in Whole Foods’ stores will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods. Then in September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all items in Whole Foods’ stores. In addition, dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labeled with calorie information.
- High-tech goes plant-forward. “Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table, too,” Whole Foods noted. By using science to advance recipes and manipulate plant-based ingredients and proteins, these techniques are creating alternatives such as vegan burgers that seem to bleed and sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes. These new production techniques are also bringing some new varieties of nut milks and yogurts made from pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts and pecans
- Puffed and popped snacks. Crunchy snacks are perennial favorites, but new technology is “revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried and crisped,” as Whole Foods puts it. New extrusion methods (ways of processing and combining ingredients) have paved the way for popped cassava chips, puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips and puffed rice clusters. Good-old-fashioned chips also get an upgrade as part of the trend, with better-for-you bites such as jicama, parsnip or Brussels sprout crisps. Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Ranch Lentil Crisps are a store brand example of this category.
- Tacos come out of their shell. There’s no slowing down the craze for all things Latin American, according to Whole Foods, but the taco trend has a life of its own. This street-food star is no longer limited to a tortilla or to savory recipes: Tacos are showing up for breakfast, and trendy restaurants across the country have dessert variations. Most of all, tacos are shedding their shell for new kinds of wrappers and fillings too such as seaweed wrappers with poke filling. Classic tacos aren’t going anywhere, but greater attention to ingredients is upping their game. One end of the spectrum is hyper-authentic cooking featuring items such as heirloom corn tortillas or classic barbacoa. Whole Foods’ new Mexico City-inspired taco venues in more than 175 stores feature jackfruit al pastor and a paleo chicken burrito, among other items.
- Root-to-stem. Between nose-to-tail butchery and reducing food waste, a few forces are combining to inspire root-to-stem cooking, which makes use of the entire fruit or vegetable, including the stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten. Recipes such as pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto or broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumers to new flavors and textures from old favorites.
- Say cheers to the other bubbly. Flavored sparkling beverages, from mineral water to plant-derived options made with maple and birch, are a booming category vying for consumer attention. An example of this trend is Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Canned Sparkling Water in pure, lime, lemon, orange and grapefruit flavors.
This year’s predictions came from Whole Foods’ buyers who source items across the retailer’s cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments and spot trends for the retailer’s more than 470 stores.