10 Food Trends Whole Foods Predicts You'll Be Seeing Everywhere in 2018
In November, Whole Foods experts announced their predictions for the top food trends of 2018. Drawing on their experience from product sourcing and tracking consumer preference trends, these trend spotters boast over 100 years of combined experience. And in the past, they've been pretty spot-on. Here's what they're predicting will be big in food in 2018.
1. Floral flavors
Edible petals have always been a thing in the foodie world, but Whole Foods is predicting that the subtle sweetness and aromatic addition of botanics is going to take over mainstream flavor profiles. And already, take a look at Kim Kardashian's ice cubes from her baby shower that had Twitter going crazy.
I'm all for this trend, at least in moderation—additions like rose water can be overpowering, but some subtle hints can really elevate a dish.
2. Super powders
This one has been building for a while—it's obviously pretty easy to mix a powder into any dish. Stars like matcha, turmeric, and spirulina have been shooting through the health food market and don't seem to be stopping anytime soon.
I'm not inherently against powder additions, but I think this craze gets over-hyped. Adding some matcha powder to your cappuccino is not going to suddenly change your life, and people seem to expect it to.
3. Functional mushrooms
I'm not totally sure I understand the concept of functional mushrooms, but they've got something to do with medicinal mushrooms and improving immune support. Varieties like reishi, chaga, and cordyceps are making their way into a variety of broths, coffee, and even shower gel.
I can't knock it 'till I've tried it I suppose, but ingesting medicinal mushrooms makes me a little wary of a psychedelic experience. I'll let the market figure this one out.
4. Feast from the Middle East
My family is Lebanese, so Middle Eastern flavors have always been a staple of my food experience. Standard flavors such as hummus and falafel have been ubiquitous for years, but more specialized spices like harissa, cardamom and za’atar are finally rising into mainstream consciousness as well.
Lebanese food contains some of my favorite dishes in the world, so the more options I have to consume it the better. Nothing will top my grandmother's kibbeh, but I'm excited that the world is trying.
5. Transparency 2.0
Surprisingly unprompted by the FDA, many brands have been providing more and more transparency about how their products are created. Details such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production, and animal welfare standards are being featured more and more prominently on labels.
I'm never not going to support food production being more transparent—nutrition facts, production standards, the more the merrier.
6. High-tech goes plant forward
Science and the food industry are inescapably intertwined, but the trend recently has been toward manipulating plant-based ingredients into meat substitutes and nut-based imitation dairy products.
From the "Beyond Meat" burger to avocado ice cream and pea milk, my vegetarian heart is having excitatory palpitations. While some animal-product imitations have disappointed me in the past, I wholeheartedly support the general trend towards plant-based diets.
7. Puffed & popped snacks
Consumers have always gotten excited about crunchy snacks, but improved technology has revolutionized the ability to create healthier snack options. Think popped cassava chips, puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips, and Brussels sprout chips.
Brussels sprouts chips have sustained me through many an afternoon lecture. And as a dedicated lover of pasta, I'm excited about an opportunity to try some puffed bowties. Bring on the puffs.
8. Tacos out of the shell
Apparently dessert tacos are becoming a thing? Chefs are also getting creative with non-tortilla shells (think seaweed wrappers and shaved jicama) and non-traditional flavors such as crab and bacon breakfast tacos.
Tacos are a universal crowd pleaser. Easy to customize and open to innumerable combinations, they seem to have become a staple in everyone's diet. Expanding into more creative options is an exciting development, but I'd be happy with the basics, too.
Reducing food waste is a responsible trend that's been on the rise for years now—but hasn't extended that much into vegetables, until now. Products like pickled watermelon rinds and broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumer markets to new flavors and textures from their favorite plant foods.
I can't say I have much experience with broccoli roots, but I'm open to the option for sure. Some Whole Foods stores are apparently introducing root to stem salad bars, so maybe I'll have the opportunity soon.
10. The other bubbly
Thanks to brands like LaCroix, sparkling beverages are on the rise. Not to be confused with standard sodas, these flavored sparkling waters feature plant-derived options like maple and birch, sparkling cold brews, and mocktails.
I'm personally not a fan of LaCroix, and have never been into soda, so I'm hesitant about this one. But I understand why fizzy drinks are appealing, and a lower-sugar option is definitely preferable to a classic cola.
I can't pretend that I'm not pretty hyped about these trends. Health-conscious eating has taken on the fast-food Goliaths in full force, and these trends will only help push the movement further. Or, at the very least, push some avocado ice cream into my stomach.