In November, Whole Foods Market’s global buyers and experts announced the most anticipated food trends for 2018. Floral flavors, functional mushrooms and root-to-stem recipes are just a few of the picks expected to take off this year. The seasoned trend-spotters thoughtfully compiled this list based on more than 100 years of combined experience in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences.
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 top 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.
Powders have found their way into lattés, smoothies, and nutrition bars. For an energy boost, powders like matcha, maca root and cacao are popular. Smoothie fans are raising a glass to powders like spirulina, kale, herbs and roots for a 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.
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.
Feast from the Middle East
Things like hummus, pita and falafel were tasty entry points to Middle Eastern foods, but now consumers are ready to explore the ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences rising to the top. Other trending Middle Eastern ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, and dried fruits.
Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top-of-mind, but shoppers seek out other details, too, such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards. The FDA’s deadline for nutrition labeling is among the first regulatory steps for greater transparency.
High-Tech Goes Plant-Forward
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.
Puffed & Popped Snacks
New technology is revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried and crisped. New extrusion methods 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
Tacos are now 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. One end of the spectrum is hyper-authentic cooking with things like heirloom corn tortillas or classic barbacoa. And thanks to brands like Siete, there are grain-free options for paleo fans too.
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 flavors and textures from old favorites.
Say Cheers to the Other Bubbly
LaCroix may have paved the way, but now there’s an entire booming category of sparkling beverages vying for consumer attention. These drinks are a far cry from their sugary predecessors. Flavored sparkling waters like plant-derived options from Sap! and sparkling cold brew from Stumptown will are shaking up a fizzy fix.