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14/11/2017 – News / Whole Foods / Market Trends / Global

Whole Foods Market reveals top 10 food trends for 2018

Whole Foods Market’s global buyers and experts have announced the most anticipated food trends for the year ahead. Floral flavours, functional mushrooms and root-to-stem recipes are just a few of the picks expected to take off in the US market in 2018. The seasoned trend-spotters have compiled this list based on more than 100 years of combined experience in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences.


Whole Foods Market’s top 10 trends for 2018:


1. Floral flavours

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 flavours 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-flavoured 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.


2. Super powders 

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. Meanwhile, ground turmeric powder – the ever-popular spice used in Ayurvedic medicine – is still on the rise. Smoothie fans are raising a glass to powders like spirulina, kale, herbs and roots. And even protein powders have evolved beyond bodybuilders to pack in new nutrients like skin- and hair-enhancing collagen. 


3. Functional mushrooms 

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 flavours also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee flavours. Body care is hot on this mushroom trend too, so look for a new crop of soaps, hair care and more.  


4. Feast from the Middle East 

Middle Eastern culinary influences have made their way west for years, and 2018 will bring those traditions into the mainstream. Products 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.


5. Transparency 2.0 

More is more when it comes to product labelling. 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: Firstly, in January 2018, all canned tuna in the company’s stores will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods; Secondly, in September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all food items in stores; and thirdly, dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labelled with calorie information. The FDA’s deadline for nutrition labelling 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. 


6. 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. 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. 


7. Puffed and popped snacks

Crunchy snacks are perennial favourites, but new technology is revolutionising 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.


8. Tacos come out of their shell 

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: in the US, tacos are showing up for breakfast, and trendy restaurants across the country have desert 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.


9. 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 like pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto or broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumers to new flavours and textures from old favourites.


10. Say ‘Cheers’ to the other bubbly

The LaCroix brand may have led the way, but there’s now 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. Flavoured sparkling waters like plant-derived options from Sap! (made with maple and birch) and sparkling cold brew from Stumptown will are shaking up a fizzy fix, while US shoppers are also embracing mocktails. 


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 across the United States.

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