Earlier this week, Whole Foods practiced its hand at trend forecasting. The chain’s global buyers and experts culled their data and surfaced a list of what they're predicting to be the top food trends of 2018. The Austin, Texas-based grocers are no strangers to the ebbs and flows of the market, so they wrangled a team of “seasoned trendspotters” and put together a mix of what they say could be next year’s turmeric/rainbows/everything bagel spice.
Using the word trend begets a slippery slope. The word implies newness, novelty, but many foods on this list are far from new. Take tacos, for example. Those tortilla-bound bundles are delicious, but in no way new, and reducing them to a trend forgets the histories and narratives that brought the taco to where it is today. A little bit of context goes a long way in a discussion like this. Bearing that in mind, here are the foods you might see more of in Whole Foods next year.
At the top of the list sits something we’re more accustomed to ogling over than actually eating. Flowers, it seems, are becoming increasingly popular snacks. They lend a sweet and aromatic air to any dish or drink. Not to mention how beautiful they look. Florals for 2018? Groundbreaking.
Powders, like maca, matcha, and cacao, seem to be gaining popularity. The forecasters cite their increasing relevance, as powders are being packed into smoothies, juices, soups, and even bars. Power to the powder!
What exactly makes a mushroom functional I can't quite figure out. But according to Whole Foods, it seems we’re about to hit peak mushroom, what with the prevalence of a whole new slew of varieties like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane. I, for one, have always been a ‘shroom fan, but all of a sudden I see them in coffee, soaps, and bottled drinks. How far can the modest mushroom go?
Feast from the Middle East
Hmm. Not quite sure where Whole Foods is going with this one. It’s tricky to suddenly call such a vast region of the world trendy, but I think what they’re trying to say is that the U.S. appetite for goods and products from countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, and Syria is on the rise. In which case, I’m not complaining; bring on the harissa, pomegranate molasses, and za’atar, please!
It’s no secret that the modern customer cares about transparency. Recent years have seen increasing attention paid to where our food comes from and how it’s made. However, it seems Whole Foods is looking to up the ante next year with a series of new developments that bring the consumer even closer to the process.
High Tech Goes Plant Forward
This trend is all about the intersections of science and plant-based eating. Neither are particularly new, but it seems we’re at an exciting junction for the two. Innovative techniques continue to emerge that take non-meat eating to interesting places. Bleeding veggie burger anyone?
Puffed and Popped Snacks
Let’s hear it for the chip! A reimagined one at least: New methods of drying, crisping, and puffing have ushered in a new era for the classic snack.
Tacos Come out of Their Shell
It seems tacos are undergoing some kind of makeover as they take new shapes (salads, soups) and adopt new flavor profiles (dessert tacos?). Whole Foods thinks tacos are on the rise. Maybe they are. I hear Mexico has been known to make a pretty good taco for quite some time.
Here’s one I definitely vibe with. The idea is that cooks should be utilizing all elements of their produce. It's like nose-to-tail but for the garden variety. Sign me up!
Say Cheers to the Other Bubbly
No trend forecast would be complete without a mention of the drink that seems to be semi-ubiquitous: sparkling water. LaCroix, it seems, is not going anywhere.
Is anything missing from this list? Let us know what you'd like to see more of in 2018.