Prepare yourselves, foodies—2018 will be a year of sipping and munching on flowers, mushrooms, powders, and bubbles.
At least that’s the future that Whole Foods is predicting. The high-end grocer, which was acquired by Amazon this summer, just came out out with its annual list of food trends for the year ahead.
Whole Foods tapped its global buyers and experts—ranging from its master sommelier and global beverage buyer to its global meat buyer—to find out what they’re seeing on the ground. Expect the following items to make their way to store shelves, and very likely into your shopping basket.
Get ready to eat flowers. Lavender, rose and hibiscus are showing up in everything from lattes to granola to marshmallows. And Whole Foods has called out elderflower as the MVP (Most Valuable Petal).
The likes of matcha, maca root, cacao, and ground turmeric are now in everything from nutrition bars to soups to baked goods. For example, RXBar, which was recently acquired by Kellogg, uses a powdered egg-white protein.
Fungi are making their escape from the produce aisle with “functional” varietals—mushrooms like reishi and chaga that are used as a wellness ingredient—and making appearances in beverages like coffees and teas. Expect them to also turn up in your body products like soaps.
Middle Eastern Cuisine
Whole Foods predicts that 2018 will be the year Middle Eastern fare will fully hit the mainstream. And consumers will look beyond the hummus, pita and falafel the company says were “entry points” into the category. Spices like harissa, cardamom, and za’atar, and dishes like shakshuka should start popping up more and more.
Consumers are demanding more information about their food than ever before and manufacturers have responded with a plethora of labels: GMO-free, responsibly grown and raised, and Fair Trade, to name just a few.
At one time plant-based proteins were just for vegans and vegetarians. But better technology is making products like plant-based burgers and nut milks and yogurts appealing to even the most enthusiastic meat and dairy eaters who want to cut back for animal welfare, environmental, or health reasons.
Puffed and Popped
New ways of processing and combining ingredients—what the industry calls extrusion methods—means that snacks are now coming in puffed, popped, and dried varietals. Puffed rice cluster, anyone?
The taco craze is hitting new heights, as the culinary world redefines what it even means to be a taco. Tacos for breakfast and dessert are now the norm, and chefs are pushing the boundaries on what can be used as a wrapper and filling.
Nose-to-tail, root-to-stem—call it whatever you want but cutting back on food waste is gaining traction with consumers. A growing group of food manufacturers are answering the call by using parts of plants or animals that were once considered trash—think pickled watermelon rinds.
It turns out the LaCroix craze was just the tip of the iceberg. Get ready for an explosion of sparkling drinks—whether that’s in the seltzer, water, or cold brew coffee category—that clock in at a much lower sugar count than soda.