Pacific Rim flavors, eco-conscious packaging, faux meat snacks and new varieties of hemp-infused products are among the food influences expected to take off in the next year. The retailer’s seasoned trend-spotters thoughtfully compiled this report based on more than 100 years of combined experience in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences and participating in food and wellness industry exhibitions worldwide.
Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trend predictions for 2019:
- Pacific Rim Flavors
Flavor inspiration from the Pacific Rim (think Asia, Oceania and the western coasts of North and South America) are popping up in grocery stores and restaurants as people continue to explore more of the world through their palates. Ingredients like longganisa (a Filipino pork sausage), dried shrimp, cuttlefish and shrimp paste are on restaurant and home menus that span from breakfast to dinner, while vibrant tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit and passionfruit are making their way into colorful smoothie bowls and cocktails.
- Shelf-Stable Probiotics
Wellness-focused brands are making it easier to get more probiotics in your day by adding functional probiotic ingredients to your pantry staples through products like granola, oatmeal, nut butters, soups and nutrition bars. Another unexpected place shoppers can find probiotics is in the cleaning aisle with brands like Counter Culture Probiotic Cleaning Tonic, an all-purpose cleaner that utilizes probiotic cultures and essential oils. Even beauty brands are including pre- and probiotic-based ingredients through sunscreen and other topical body care.
- Phat Fats
Fats are making a comeback, and the trendiest diets are on board. With the rising popularity of keto, paleo, grain-free and even “pegan” (paleo + vegan) diets, plus a general shifting consumer mindset, fats are starring ingredients in creative, convenient foods. Along with these phat fats, higher protein and lower-carb combos will continue to trend across simple and easy snacking categories.
- Next Level Hemp
Hemp hearts, seeds and oils are nothing new to food and body care lovers — they’re in everything from waffle mix to dried pastas. (Even baby hemp leaves have had their moment in the microgreens trends.) But a new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants has many brands looking to explore the booming cannabis biz. While CBD oil is still technically taboo (prohibited in food, body care and dietary supplements under federal law), retailers, culinary experts and consumers can’t miss the cannabis craze when visiting food industry trade shows, food innovators conferences or even local farmers markets.
- Faux Meat Snacks
Eating more plants doesn’t mean you have to forgo beloved meaty flavors and textures. Plant-based foods will continue to surprise and inspire — this year taking on the meat-based snacking world of jerkies and pork rinds you may associate with the corner store and road trips. Mushrooms like king trumpet will play a key role here, flexing their flavor and texture powers in tasty jerky, “pork” rinds and “bacon” snacks (used in both Pig Øut Pigless Bacon Chips and Snacklins Cracklins Without the Pork) to offer up a satisfying crunch.
- Eco-Conscious Packaging
Some companies are making commitments to ban straws, while brands like Whole Foods Market are setting up regional pilots to test recyclable strawless, sipper lids made from PET, without increasing the plastic content of a lid/straw combination. Expect to see an emphasis on reusing, with more produce departments going “BYOVB” (bring your own vegetable bag) and traditionally single-use packages going multi-use, like multi-use (and compostable!) food wraps made from beeswax, as well as waxed canvas or silicone alternatives to the usual plastic storage bags that can be used for sandwiches and snacks.
- Trailblazing Frozen Treats
While there is something comforting and classic about a scoop of vanilla ice cream, some consumers are wanting something a little less, well, vanilla. The new pints on the block are adding a fresh take on a timeless treat with innovative bases like avocado, hummus, tahini and coconut water. Look down specialty frozen aisles and you might find plant-based frozen desserts like CocoWhip Soft Serve and ice creams with savory swirls of artisanal cheese (and don’t think you’ll stop seeing those low calorie, high protein players in the frozen aisle anytime soon).
- Marine Munchies, Beyond Seaweed
Seaweed snacks rose to popularity a few years back and are now enjoyed by health-conscious adults and toddlers alike, however, our experts expect even more ocean influence in the grocery aisles in the year to come. Think beyond seaweed snacks. Sea greens are showing up in dishes like seaweed butter and kelp noodles while consumers are exploring new depths of ocean flavors with superfood properties like unique varietals of algae and kelp.
- Snack Time, Upgraded
Snacking across the board will take a turn toward the fancy, and snacks, as they start to usurp the usual three-meals-a-day routine, are anything but ordinary. Snacking has become an occasion of its very own — think charcuterie or cheese boards for one, one-ounce portions of Cypress Grove cheeses paired with demi-baguettes as desk snacks and more mini meals. More takes on snacking nod to the comforting treats of your second grade lunchbox, with better ingredients.
- Purchases that Empower
Much like last year’s Transparency 2.0 trend, consumer purchasing power continues to motivate changes in the food, beverage and body care industries, as shoppers expect more from the brands and businesses they choose to support. In 2019, thoughtful consideration behind purchases moves beyond (but doesn’t exclude!) environmental stewardship and animal welfare, and becomes more people-focused.