“With 2024 just a couple months away, Whole Foods Market has unveiled its top 10 food trends for next year – a list that includes the “veggie” being put back in the veggie burger, the rise of buckwheat as the next “superfood” and fancy faux fish.
Now in its ninth year, the annual predictions list provides “insight into what our buyers and culinary experts are keeping on their radar,” says Cathy Strange, ambassador of food culture at Whole Foods Market and a member of the Amazon-owned retailer’s Trends Council.
The council’s collective of more than 50 team members brings together decades of experience in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences. It also conducts in-depth workshopping with emerging and existing brands to compile the list. Here are the retailer’s educated predictions.
The report highlights new and emerging protein-forward products with mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh (recently covered in Canadian Grocer’s “Four things to know” series) and legumes in place of complex meat alternatives. Labels are also shrinking in the category, with some brands culling to just two ingredients! Examples in Canadian stores: Big Mountain Foods Greek Style Fava Feta, My Little Chickpea Gourmet Foods Black Bean Veggie Sliders.
At Earth University in Costa Rica, where student researchers are tackling big systemic environmental issues, the typically discarded cacao pulp is being made into jellies and jams. The emergence of cacao fruit powders in 2023 is also an opportunity for brands seeking a “new sugar alternative without compromising on sweet, ambrosial flavour.”
Gaining popularity as a cover crop to support soil health, buckwheat is a superfood seed containing protein, carbs and fibre. Naturally gluten-free, buckwheat (already popular in the form of soba noodles) is expected to find its way into “everything from plant-based milk alternatives to crackers and granola.”
Noting tinned fish and caviar took off in 2023, Whole Foods is predicting fancy fish to “dip its fins into the vegan pond.” Think carrots in place of lox, trumpet mushrooms for scallops, and the root vegetable konjac in sushi rolls and poke bowls. Examples in Canadian stores: TMRW Ocean Cakes, Save da Sea Plant-Based Smoked Salmon and Tuna Salad, Seed to Surf Enoki Mushroom Snow Crab, Konscious Plant-Based California Rolls.
Whether focused on cleaning and/or conserving, brands across the aisles are rallying to support water movements. Examples in Canadian stores: Nature’s Bee Foaming Hand Soap Kits, Everist Shampoo Concentrate & Deep Conditioning Concentrate.
From fresh, whole, ground or pickled scorpion peppers to Guajillo or Hungarian goathorn peppers, global peppers are expected to sizzle in almost every aisle. Expect a new wave of botana sauces and chili oils, as well as pepper-infused drinks like canned tepache. Examples in Canadian stores:Hardbite Sweet Ghost Pepper Potato Chips, Four Fathers Food Co. Cayenne Hot Sauce.
The Trends Council has identified “more brands making products addressing life stages that were previously swept under the rug,” like menopause energy bars and recipes for estrogen management. Brands are also donating to local charities focused on women’s health. Examples in Canadian stores: Aeryon Wellness Reclaïm Hormonal Support, Satya Eczema Easy Glide Stick.
TikTok creators have brought “little treat culture” into the zeitgeist, which in grocery could be an impulse purchase of a macaron or a fizzy, functional beverage. Examples in Canadian stores: Scout Atlantic Canadian Lobster, Mclean Meats Dry Cured Prosciutto, Mindful Monk Dark Chocolate Almond Squares.
Shoppers have dressed up their instant ramen at home for years now, but brands have stepped up their game with more gourmet options minus certain preservatives and added MSG, so noodle lovers can take on less of the workload.
New coffee and energy drinks with added mushrooms, probiotics and more.”
*This article is excerpted from Canadiangrocer.com website, published 18th October 2023