Whole Foods Market's Top Food Trends For 2018

Dec. 28, 2017

Whole Foods Market announced the top trends that will be emerging in the coming year, including floral flavors, functional mushrooms and root-to-stem recipes.  

Whole Foods Market's top 10 trends for 2018: 

1. Floral flavors 

Whole flowers and petals in dishes to infuse botanical flavors into drinks and snacks will make for subtly sweet taste and fresh aromatics. Look for things such as herbs like lavender in lattes and rose-flavor in everything. Bright pink hibiscus tea, both hot and iced, is a big part of the trend, and elderflower is the hottest in the cocktail and bubbly drink market. 

2. Super Powders 

Powders are easy to incorporate, and so have found their way into lattes, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods. Matcha, maca root and cacao are showing up everywhere as an alternative energy boost to coffee. Ground turmeric powder is becoming increasingly popular, the spice used in Ayurvedic medicine. Spirulina, kale, herbs and roots are capturing smoothie fans, and protein powders have evolved beyond bodybuilders to include nutrients like skin- and hair-enhancing collagen. 

3. Functional Mushrooms 

These are traditionally an ingredient in dietary supplements used to support wellness. Now there are varieties like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion's mane in all different kinds of products. Some include drinks such as bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies, and teas. They can also be seen in mushroom broths, cocoa, and chocolate. It's also appearing in body care, such as soap and hair care.  

4. Feast from the Middle East 

Middle Eastern culinary influences are coming mainstream in 2018. Consumers are ready to explore deep traditions after accepting hummus, pita and falafel as tasty entry points. Spices like harissa, cardamom, and za'atar are being included in more menu items, 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.  

5. Transparency 2.0 

Consumers want to know the real story behind t heir food, and more is more when it comes to product labeling. GMO transparency is key, but there are other details consumers are interested in such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards. At Whole Foods Market, transparency will see changes happening in 2018: 1) In January 2018, all canned tuna will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods; 2) In September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all food items; and 3) Dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labeled with calorie information.  

6. High-Tech Goes Plant-Forward 

Science is being used to advance recipes and manipulate plant-based ingredients and proteins, creating mind-bending alternatives like "bleeding" vegan burgers or sushi-grade "not-tuna" made from tomatoes. This type of new production technique also brings new varieties of nut milks and yogurts made from pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts and pecans.  

7. Puffed & Popped Snacks 

Although crunchy snacks are always a favorite, technology is revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried and crisped. With new extrusion methods (ways of processing and combining ingredients), there are popped cassava chips, puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips and more! 

8. Tacos Come Out of Their Shell 

The taco trend has a life of its own. Tacos are showing up for breakfast and many restaurants now have dessert variations. Tacos are shedding their shell for all sorts of new kinds of wrappers and fillings too – such as seaweed wrappers with poke filling. On one end of the spectrum is authentic cooking with heirloom corn tortillas or classic barbacoa. There are also grain-free options for paleo fans, too. Lots of options! 

9. Root-to-Stem 

A few forces are combining to inspire root-to-stem cooking. This makes use of the entire fruit or vegetable, including the stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten. Some recipes that introduce consumers to root-to-stem include pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto, and broccoli-stem slaw.  

10. Say Cheers to the Other Bubbly 

There's an entire booming category of sparkling beverages vying for consumer attention, outside of just soda. Flavored sparkling waters include plant-derived options, including Sap!, and sparkling cold brew from Stumptown, to name just a few outside of the ever-popular brand LeCroix. There are also mocktails such as Topo Chico.  

Whole Foods Market's experts brought together this year's predictions along with 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 stores.