Consumer trends are always evolving and food companies want to be up to date on these purchasing habits at all times. With the help of their consumer trend spotting team, Whole Foods has released its annual list of top food trends for 2018. The company’s global buyers and industry experts have compiled this list from trends they have noticed from their research. The top ten trends for the upcoming year include health focused products, beneficial ingredients and appealing packaging.
Plant based foods are becoming even more popular to consumers and they appear three times on the list. Functional mushrooms are number three on the list. Traditionally used to support wellness, these mushrooms come in powdered form and are incorporated in many drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas. Number six on the list is labeled “High-Tech Goes Plant-Forward,” as plant-based diets are becoming more popular. New innovations in food manufacturing technology allow creations such as “bleeding” vegan burgers and sushi grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes. Dairy-free products are evolving into foods like vegan frosting and crème-brûlée. Second last on the list are “root-to-stem” products that incorporate the entire fruit or vegetable, including stems and leaves. Recipes like beet-green pesto, broccoli stem slaw and watermelon rinds are encouraging consumers to reduce food waste.
Floral flavors are number one on the list as many consumers turn towards edible flowers for their subtly sweet taste and fresh aromatics. They can be found in many drinks like lavender lattes and rose-flavored teas. The list highlights hibiscus teas as a popular trend and dubs elderflower as the new “MVP” (most valuable petal) in cocktails and bubbly drinks.
International flavors are rising up in consumer preference as Middle Eastern Cuisine and Latin American classics are number four and eight on the list, respectively. People are starting to really appreciate Middle Eastern recipes that incorporate traditional spices like cardamom, harissa and za’atar. Tacos with a twist are showing up at restaurants as breakfast items, and some come in dessert variations as well. Classic tacos are not losing their popularity but these new variations are doing a great job at appealing to consumers who are interested in trying new things.
Whole Foods challenges food manufacturers with the fifth point on their list, “Transparency 2.0.” The organic food retailer highlights consumer interest in transparent labeling in products. Consumers want to know what is in their foods and many prefer products that are GMO-free, fair trade, and responsible in production and animal welfare standards. Along with the FDA’s deadline for nutrition labeling, Whole Foods has announced their own product expectations for 2018:
1. In January 2018, all canned tuna in their stores will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods;
2. In September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all food items in stores
3. Dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labeled with calorie information.
The list also has puffed and popped snacks as number seven and bubbly, carbonated beverages at number ten. These products have brought more interest in the healthy snack category, with items like popped cassava chips, seaweed snacks, sparkling water and bubbly cold brew coffees.
This year’s predictions confirm the changing consumer market, as healthy, plant-based nutrition continues to be on the rise. Companies are bringing a twist to this health craze by providing more options for consumers and in this way, they are increasing revenue.