Experts forecast up-and-coming flavors, products and culinary influences.
Whole Foods Market’s global buyers and experts offered a list of top food trends for the year ahead. Floral flavors, functional mushrooms and root-to-stem recipes are just a few of the picks expected to take off in 2018. This year’s predictions came from Whole Foods Market’s experts and industry leaders who source items and lead trends 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. Shoppers can try the trends in their local Whole Foods Market stores or on Amazon.com.
Foragers and culinary stars have embraced edible petals for years, but floral inspiration is finally in full bloom. From adding whole flowers and petals into dishes to infusing botanical flavors into drinks and snacks, this top trend makes for a subtly sweet taste and fresh aromatics. Look for flowers used like herbs in things like lavender lattés and rose-flavored everything. Bright pink hibiscus teas are a hot (and iced) part of the trend, while elderflower is the new MVP (most valuable petal) of cocktails and bubbly drinks.
Try the Trend: Whole Foods Market Lime Mint Elderflower Italian Sparkling Mineral Water; 365 Everyday Value Lavender Lemon Granola; GoodPop Hibiscus Mint Frozen Pop; 365 Everyday Value Lavender Lemonade Tea Bags with Hibiscus; Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Lemonade; Whole Foods Market Dark Chocolate Violet Marshmallow; Artisan Coffee’s Lavender Latté inside Whole Foods Market 365 Akron Store; Jacobs Farm Organic Edible Flowers.
Powders are serious power players. Because they’re so easy to incorporate, they’ve found their way into lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods. For an energy boost or an alternative to coffee, powders like matcha, maca root and cacao are showing up in mugs everywhere. Ground turmeric powder is still on the rise, the ever-popular spice used in Ayurvedic medicine. Smoothie fans are raising a glass to powders like spirulina, kale, herbs and roots for an oh-so-green vibrancy that needs no Instagram filter. Even protein powders have evolved beyond bodybuilders to pack in new nutrients like skin- and hair-enhancing collagen.
Try the Trend: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides; RX Bars made with powdered egg-white protein; Gaia Herbs Golden Milk with Turmeric, Dates and Herbs; MatchaBar bottled beverage; Whole Foods Market Spirulina Powder; Whole Foods Market Apple Cider Vinegar Turmeric Ginger Sparkling Tonic.
Shoppers are buzzing about functional mushrooms, which are traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements. Now, varieties like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane star in products across categories. Bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas are leading the way. The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee flavors. Body care is hot on this mushroom trend too, so look for a new crop of soaps, hair care and more.
Try the Trend: Rebbl Reishi beverages (in flavors like Chocolate and Cold Brew), Kettle & Fire Mushroom Chicken Bone Broth; Om Reishi Mushroom Powder; Alaffia Coconut Reishi Chai Shower Gel or haircare products.
Middle Eastern culinary influences have made their way west for years, and 2018 will bring these tasty traditions into the mainstream. Things like hummus, pita and falafel were tasty entry points, but now consumers are ready to explore the deep traditions, regional nuances and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences rising to the top. Spices like harissa, cardamom and za’atar are hitting more menus, as well as dishes like shakshuka, grilled halloumi and lamb. Other trending Middle Eastern ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, tomato jam and dried fruits.
Try the Trend: Saffron Road Falafel Crunchy Chickpeas; Seed + Mill tahini and halva at Whole Foods Market Bryant Park; Aphrodite Halloumi; eggplant; 365 Everyday Value Organic Tahini; bulk pistachios and dried fruit; seasonal spring salad bar item made with carrots, pomegranate molasses and harissa.
More is more when it comes to product labeling. 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, too, such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards. At Whole Foods Market, this plays out in several ways, starting with these three happening in 2018: 1) In January 2018, all canned tuna in Whole Foods stores will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods; 2) In September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all items in stores; and 3) Dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labeled with calorie information. The FDA’s deadline for nutrition labeling is among the first regulatory steps for greater transparency, but expect consumers and brands to continue leading the way into a new era of product intel.
Try the Trend: Pole & Line canned albacore tuna traceable to the exact captain and vessel that caught the fish; calorie information on dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues; 5-Step Animal Welfare Rated fresh meat and poultry; Perky Jerky Animal Welfare Rated beef jerky; sustainability certification or ratings on every type of wild-caught seafood in Whole Foods Market’s seafood department; Non-GMO Project Verified products; Fair Food certified tomatoes and strawberries.
Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table too. By using science to advance recipes and manipulate plant-based ingredients and proteins, these techniques are creating mind-bending alternatives like “bleeding” vegan burgers or 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. Dairy-free indulgences like vegan frosting, brownies, ice cream, brioche and crème brulée are getting so delicious, non-vegans won’t know the difference—or they might choose them anyway!
Try the Trend: Beyond Meat Burger; Ocean Hugger Foods Ahimi vegan tuna (available in NYC and LA Whole Foods Market stores); Ripple milks made from peas; Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Toona; MALK cold-pressed nut milks; MooalaBananamilk; Forager Cashew Yogurt; Laava Pili Nut Yogurt; Cado avocado ice cream.
Crunchy snacks are perennial favorites, but new technology is revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried and crisped. 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 like jicama, parsnip or Brussels sprout crisps.
Try the Trend: Dang Sticky Rice Chips, Seapoint Farms Seaweed Fava Chips; JicaChips (in six flavors); 365 Everyday Value Ranch Lentil Crisps; Unreal Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems; Lesser Evil Crunchy Paleo Puffs.
There’s no slowing down the craze for all things Latin American, 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—think 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 with things like heirloom corn tortillas or classic barbacoa. And thanks to brands like Siete, there are grain-free options for paleo fans too.
Try the Trend: Whole Foods Market’s new Mexico-City-inspired taco venues in more than 175 stores, featuring jackfruit al pastor, and a paleo chicken burrito; Siete paleo tortillas and chips; shaved jicama taco shells; Crab and Bacon Breakfast Tacos; Frontera Tortilla Chips and fresh tortillas featuring Masienda heirloom corn; 365 Everyday Value Korean Style Gochujang Hot Sauce.
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 like pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto or broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumers to new flavors and textures from old favorites.
Try the Trend: produce butcher at Whole Foods Market Bryant Park; root-to-stem salad bar items, featuring Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and celery seasonal varieties; Melon Seed Agua Fresca; Butternut Squash with Celery Leaves and Orecchiette; bagged broccoli slaw.
LaCroix may have paved the way, but now there’s an entire booming category of sparkling beverages vying for consumer attention. Just don’t call them “soda.” These drinks are a far cry from their sugary predecessors. Flavored sparkling waters like plant-derived options from Sap! (made with maple and birch) and sparkling cold brew from Stumptown are shaking up a fizzy fix. Shoppers are also toasting mocktail must-haves like Topo Chico and Whole Foods Market Lime Mint Elderflower Italian Sparkling Mineral Water.
Try the Trend: Waterloo Sparkling Water; Sap! maple and birch sparkling waters and seltzers; Stumptown Sparkling Cold Brew (in Original, Honey Lemon and Ginger Citrus); Alta Palla Sparkling Waters; Whole Foods Market Italian Sparkling Mineral Waters (in Citrus Blend, Lemon, Strawberry, Lime, Lemon Raspberry, Grapefruit and Lime Mint Elderflower flavors), 365 Everyday Value Canned Sparkling Water (Pure, Lime, Lemon, Orange and Grapefruit flavors).