Whole Foods Experts Predict Consumer Trends for 2018

Mon. November 6th, 2017 - by Jordan Okumura

AUSTIN, TX - New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner, but instead of letting businesses and customers fret about new-year-new-you proposals, Whole Foods Market announced that its global buyers and experts have done all the heavy-work them. The group created a list for the most anticipated trends in the food industry for 2018 so that businesses can rest assured their resolutions are researched and well-thought-out. Broken down into a few easy-to-digest points of reference, Whole Foods’ recent press release outlines what business trends we should expect to see for the coming year, especially in produce.

Festive and Floral

Edible flowers step up to the plate, reaching beyond the centerplace arrangement. For customers looking for a subtly sweet taste and an aromatic experience, this is a great pick! For shoppers tired of the same herbs seasoning their holiday dishes, get a head start on this trend by trying them in place of go-to herbs. Elderflower is the Most Valuable Petal (MVP) to add pizazz to dishes year-round.

Mushroom Varieties

Customers are looking to mushrooms as more than just a dietary supplement. The wellness-supportive ingredient includes varieties such as reishi, chaga, cordyceps, and lion’s mane, and they are heading to bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies, and teas near you! Another great way to incorporate this must-have item into your store is to showcase it as a mushroom broth, preserving the earthy, creamy notes.

Transparency for Product and Production

“Curiouser and curiouser,” cried Alice in her adventures in Wonderland. Fast-forward to 2018, and “curiouser and curiouser” our industry’s customers are looking to become, as they strive to gather more insight into product labeling and the stories of the farms behind their food. Consumers are looking to travel into our Wonderland of produce for GMO transparency, Fair Trade certifications, production responsibility, and animal welfare standards when it comes time to make dinner.

Plant-Based Taste and Technology

Diets are becoming more diverse, and one that has garnered much popularity is the plant-based diet. Science has reportedly advanced to such a degree that plant-based ingredients and proteins can be changed. For example, “bleeding” vegan burgers and “not-tuna” sushi from tomatoes are some alternatives for consumers. Nut milks and yogurts are also going to face this same alteration process this coming year to keep up with the rising interest in the plant-based lifestyle.

Root-to-Stem Recipes

Customers are wanting the whole thing—whatever produce they purchase, they just want it all! Whole Foods’ experts found that consumers are looking to use everything their food has to offer, including the fruit or vegetable’s leaves and stem. This trend works great for recipes, such as pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto, and broccoli-stem slaw. Always the innovators, consumers are looking to grocers for help in their dinnertime ventures.

Powder Players

Adding energy- and health-boosting items to our meals is easy-as-pie with the addition of powders, which are a great way to add nutrients to daily must-haves. Lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups, baked goods, and more are all made better when customers find they can get more bang for the buck. Some powders to showcase to your customers are matcha, maca root, and cacao for energy boosts; ground turmeric for medicinal purposes; spirulina, kale, herbs, and roots for smoothies; and protein powders for new nutrients and skin- and hair-lengthening collagen.

Middle East Feast

We’re going international, folks! In 2018, consumers are said to be looking more and more for the Middle Eastern flavors they know and love. Influences from the region can be seen in the insatiable need for traditional items, like hummus, pitas, and falafels. Now, however, consumers are wanting to get more than just their toes wet with exciting Middle Eastern spices. These adventurous customers are looking for the endless variety of spice-filled dishes hailing from the region’s cultures; spices like harissa, cardamon, and za’atar are making their way into the spotlight. Produce items like eggplant, pomegranate, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, tomato jam, and dried fruits are also ways to infuse foods with more of Middle Eastern flare.

Crunch Time

Pop, crunch, and crunch—OH MY! Crispy delights like popped cassava chips, puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips, and puffed rice clusters are becoming more popular. And, hooray! The indispensable chip has healthy options: soon-to-be fast-selling jicama, parsnip, and Brussels sprout versions. Break it down, STOP! It’s crunch time...

Thanks to the findings by experts employed by Whole Foods, these are just some ideas your business can use to capitalize on the incoming year’s trends. To see the rest, check out Whole Foods' website here, and to stay in-the-know, keep checking back with us at AndNowUKnow!

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