The US supermarket chain, which bills itself as ‘America’s Healthiest Grocery Store’ specialising in ‘the finest natural and organic foods’ has compiled a list of the top 10 trends for 2018. The predictions come from Whole Food Market’s team of buyers who source items across the cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments, and spot trends for the retailer’s 470-plus stores.
Whole Food Market operates nine supermarkets in the UK – six of which are London-based: Camden, Clapham Junction, Fulham, Kensington, Piccadilly Circus and Stoke Newington. The other three are in Cheltenham (Gloucestershire) and Giffnock (Glasgow) and Richmond (Surrey).
The trends are listed below, with Whole Foods Market’s comments:
- Floral Flavors
‘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 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.’
- 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. Ground turmeric powder is still on the rise. 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.’
- 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.’
- Feast from the Middle East
‘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.’
- 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 (Genetically Modified Organism) 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 three happening in 2018: in January, all canned tuna in our stores will come from sustainable catch methods; in September, labels will provide GMO transparency on all food items in stores; and dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labelled with calorie information. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) 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.’
- 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. Dairy-free indulgences like vegan frosting, brownies, ice cream, brioche and crème brûlée are getting so delicious, non-vegans won’t know the difference – or they might choose them anyway!’
- Puffed & Popped Snacks
‘Crunchy snacks are perennial favorites, 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.’
- 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. 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.’
‘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.’
- Say Cheers to the Other Bubbly
‘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. Flavoured 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. Cheers to the other kind of bubbly!’