Hey, can someone pass us that kelp jerky?
My dad is a self-proclaimed food trend-spotter. Just the other day, for example, he texted me urgently that he feels, "Blondies are having a cultural moment." (My mom later clarified that the source of his excitement was that he'd recently had one, for the first time in more than a decade.)
I can only imagine his disappointment to not have been included in the cabal of experts called upon by grocery behemoth Whole Foods Market for its annual food trend prediction report—but there's always next year for my dad. According to the WFM expert team, while blondies will not be a 2019 focus, lots of other exciting trends will take center stage—like faux meat, hemp-derived products, and innovations in the frozen-foods aisle. Here are the top 10 food trend predictions for 2019:
The WFM trend pundits predict lots of flavor inspiration from the Pacific Rim (Asia, Oceania and the western coasts of North and South America) in grocery stores and restaurants.
"Ingredients like longganisa (a Filipino pork sausage), dried shrimp, cuttlefish, and shrimp paste are on restaurant and home menus that span from breakfast to dinner, while vibrant tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit, and passionfruit are making their way into colorful smoothie bowls and cocktails. Jackfruit is a popular meat alternative already being used in place of items like barbecue pulled pork, while an extract of monk fruit, an ultra-sweet-tasting fruit also known as luo han guo, can be used as a sweetener replacing added sugars," says their press release.
Probiotics—live bacterias and yeasts that have been touted for gut-health and skincare alike—are here to stay, according to WFM.
"In 2019, expect even more innovative probiotic integrations in food—and not just in the supplement or refrigerated aisles," they say. "Wellness-focused brands are making it easier to get more probiotics in your day by adding functional probiotic ingredients to your pantry staples through products like granola, oatmeal, nut butters, soups and nutrition bars."
"With the rising popularity of keto, paleo, grain-free and even 'pegan' (paleo and vegan) diets, plus a general shifting consumer mindset, fats are starring ingredients in creative, convenient foods," says WF, labeling said lipids as "phat fats."
The buyers and experts note that new forms of fat integration in food and beverages—like coconut butter–filled chocolates, or sweet flavors of ghee—continue to emerge for consumption.
"Hemp hearts, seeds, and oils are nothing new to food and body care lovers—they’re in everything from waffle mix to dried pastas," says WFM. But for 2019, the expert team predicts "a new interest in the potential benefits stemming from other parts of hemp plants." Like CBD. According to the press release, CBD is still federally prohibited from inclusion in WFM's food, body care products, and dietary supplements, but the grocery chain notes that "hemp-derived products are going mainstream, if not by wide distribution, then by word of mouth!"
Plant-based versions of foods like "beef" jerky and "pork" rinds—sans any beef or pork, of course—are on the rise, according to WFM.
"More people—even those who don’t eat only vegan or vegetarian—are exploring plant-based snacking as their palates crave adventure, want a break from meat, or seek more ways to add savory umami flavors into snacks and meals. Mushrooms like king trumpet will play a key role here, flexing their flavor and texture powers," they say.
"Expect to see an emphasis on reusing, with more produce departments going 'BYOVB' (bring your own vegetable bag) and traditionally single-use packages going multi-use, like multi-use (and compostable!) food wraps made from beeswax, as well as waxed canvas or silicone alternatives to the usual plastic storage bags that can be used for sandwiches and snacks," says WFM.
Just when we thought frozen treats couldn't get better, WFM's trend-spotters gave us even more to look forward to: they're predicting a bunch of new consumer ice cream products made of everything from avocado to hummus to coconut water. Also on the docket, per WFM: "...icy indulgences like airy Taiwanese snow ice and Mexican nieves de garrafa, not to mention stretchy, chewy, Turkish ice creams that get their unique texture from mastic and other unique sources. Popsicles and gelatos won’t be left out of the fun—they’ll get some buzz with boozier infusions coming to market."
If you love seaweed-based snacks like nori, good news: WFM expects even more marine items to make their way to shelves and kitchens in 2019.
"Sea greens are showing up in dishes like seaweed butter and kelp noodles while consumers are exploring new depths of ocean flavors with superfood properties like unique varietals of algae and kelp. Puffed snacks made from water lily seeds, plant-based tuna alternatives with algae ingredients, crispy snackable salmon skins with omega-3s, and kelp jerkies are just a few testing the waters," they say.
"Snacking across the board will take a turn toward the fancy, and snacks, as they start to usurp the usual three-meals-a-day routine, are anything but ordinary. Snacking has become an occasion of its very own," says WFM. "More takes on snacking nod to the comforting treats of your second grade lunchbox, with better ingredients. Portable snack packages will feature bites like prosciutto and aged mozzarella, and artisanal versions of classic snacks like cheese or peanut butter cracker sandwiches."
Lastly, WFM predicts that consumer purchasing power will continue to effect changes in the food, beverage, and body care industries: "In 2019, thoughtful consideration behind purchases moves beyond (but doesn’t exclude!) environmental stewardship and animal welfare, and becomes more people-focused."
What food trends do you predict for 2019? Let us know in the comments.