Hershey POV: This article for Relationship With Food gathers expected food trends for the coming year, including in the snack category. We welcome Whole Foods' insights on the up-and-coming flavors, ingredients and food types that consumers want, as addressing those preferences can be key to growth in the category.
Whole Foods Market has revealed its predictions on what the biggest food trends will be in 2018 — and some of them are pretty "out there."
The retailer's global buyers and experts compiled the list based on their combined experience in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences.
From functional mushrooms and floral flavors to seaweed tacos and sparkling drinks, scroll down to see the 10 things the company believes everyone will be eating and drinking in 2018.
"Foragers and culinary stars have embraced edible petals for years, but floral inspiration is finally in full bloom," according to the report. "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. Bright pink hibiscus teas are a hot (and iced) part of the trend, while elderflower is the new MVP (most valuable petal) of cocktails and bubbly drinks."
"Powders are serious power players," according to Whole Foods. "Because they’re so easy to incorporate, they’ve found their way into lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups, and baked goods.
"For an energy boost or an alternative to coffee, powders like matcha, maca root, and cacao are showing up in mugs everywhere. Ground turmeric powder is still on the rise, the ever-popular spice used in Ayurvedic medicine. Smoothie fans are raising a glass to powders like spirulina, kale, herbs and roots for an oh-so-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."
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"Shoppers are buzzing about functional mushrooms, which are traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements," Whole Foods reported. "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. The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate, or coffee flavors. Body care is hot on this mushroom trend too, so look for a new crop of soaps, hair care, and more."
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"Middle Eastern culinary influences have made their way west for years, and 2018 will bring these tasty traditions into the mainstream. Things like hummus, pita, and falafel were tasty entry points, but now consumers are ready to explore the deep traditions, regional nuances, and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian, and Lebanese influences rising to the top.
"Spices like harissa, cardamom, and za’atar are hitting more menus, as well as dishes like shakshuka, grilled halloumi, and lamb. Other trending Middle Eastern ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, tomato jam, and dried fruits."
More is more when it comes to product labeling, according to Whole Foods, with consumers wanting 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," according to the report.
"The FDA’s deadline for nutrition labeling is among the first regulatory steps for greater transparency, but expect consumers and brands to continue leading the way into a new era of product intel."
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"Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table, too. 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. Dairy-free indulgences like vegan frosting, brownies, ice cream, brioche, and crème brûlée are getting so delicious, non-vegans won’t know the difference – or they might choose them anyway!"
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"Crunchy snacks are perennial favorites, but new technology is revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried, and crisped," according to Whole Foods. "New extrusion methods (ways of processing and combining ingredients) 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."
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"There’s no slowing down the craze for all things Latin American, but the taco trend has a life of its own. This street-food star is no longer limited to a tortilla, or to savory recipes: Tacos are 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. Classic tacos aren’t going anywhere, but greater attention to ingredients is upping their game. One end of the spectrum is hyper-authentic cooking with things like heirloom corn tortillas or classic barbacoa."
Whole Foods reported: "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 favourites."
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There’s an entire booming category of non-alcoholic sparkling beverages ready to compete for the attention of customers, according to Whole Foods. "These drinks are a far cry from their sugary predecessors. Flavoured sparkling waters like plant-derived options from Sap! (made with maple and birch) and sparkling cold brew from Stumptown are shaking up a fizzy fix."