What’s Next: Whole Foods Predicts The Coming Food Trends
Whole Foods Market’s Trends Council has revealed the top 10 anticipated food trends for 2024, offering valuable insights for customers of wholesale food distributors. These trends, identified in their ninth-annual predictions report, are expected to shape the industry in the coming year.
Each year, the Trends Council, composed of over 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including foragers, buyers, and culinary experts, compiles these predictions based on their extensive experience in product sourcing and an in-depth understanding of consumer preferences. These insights are also gleaned from collaborative efforts with emerging and established brands.
Cathy Strange, Ambassador of Food Culture for Whole Foods Market and a member of the Trends Council, emphasizes that this annual food trends prediction list provides a glimpse behind the scenes for customers, sharing what their buyers and culinary experts are keeping an eye on for the upcoming year. These trends cover a wide range of topics, from specific product ingredients to evolving movements within the food industry.
Here are the top 10 food trend predictions for 2024 relevant to the wholesale food distribution business:
- Reviving “Plant” in “Plant-Based”
Plant-based cuisine pioneers are making a comeback, emphasizing natural ingredients in products like veggie burgers. New protein-forward options feature mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh, and legumes, reducing reliance on complex meat alternatives. Even plant-based milk alternatives are simplifying their ingredient lists, appealing to vegetarian purists.
- Whole Cacao Utilization
Brands like Blue Stripes are highlighting the use of cacao pulp and other by-products, following a practice seen in other countries for centuries. This sustainable approach turns typically discarded cacao pulp into jellies and jams. Cacao fruit powders provide an opportunity for brands seeking sugar alternatives with a delightful flavor.
- Embracing Buckwheat
Buckwheat, known for supporting soil health, is gaining popularity as a superfood rich in protein, carbs, and fiber. It’s naturally gluten-free and can be found in various products, from plant-based milk alternatives to crackers and granola.
- Elevating Faux Fish
The trend of plant-based seafood is on the rise, offering alternatives to traditional fish products. Expect to see creative substitutes like carrots replacing lox, trumpet mushrooms standing in for scallops, and konjac root making its way into sushi rolls and poke bowls.
- Clean & Conserve: Water Stewardship
Water conservation is a growing concern for brands, and consumers are taking notice. Many brands are utilizing water from fruit by-products that would otherwise go to waste. In addition, regenerative agriculture initiatives are promoting soil health and water conservation. Non-governmental organizations are supporting farmed oysters, which help filter water and restore coastal ecosystems.
- Complex Heat
Complex heat is evolving, with global peppers gaining popularity across the industry. Specialty pepper varieties, such as Scorpion Peppers and Guajillo Peppers, are being used in various forms, from fresh to pickled. Pepper-infused products, including beverages, are making their mark in the condiment aisles.
- Noodle Innovations
As brands enhance their offerings, consumers are enjoying gourmet noodle options without certain preservatives and added MSG. Noodles provide a convenient and comforting meal with quality ingredients and enticing flavors.
- Little Luxuries
Thanks to TikTok, the “Little Treat Culture” trend is catching on, with brands providing affordable indulgences in individual serving packages. Whether it’s a daily ritual or a spontaneous reward, consumers are making room for these small pleasures.
- Women’s Health: from Taboo to Top of Mind
The conversation around women’s health is evolving, with viral recipes for hormonal remedies and brands offering products to support various life stages and symptoms. Innovations include specially formulated bars and snacks for cycle health, addressing menstruation, menopause, and more.
- A Better Boost
Consumers are seeking more from their caffeine sources, and new products are emerging with added benefits, such as mushrooms and probiotics. Clean caffeine – caffeine that is extracted without the use of harsh chemicals – is considered to be a gentler, and more sustainable source of energy.
These trends offer valuable insights for our customers, helping them align their offerings with evolving consumer preferences and industry dynamics.
Whatever consumers demand next, LA Foods will always be your go-to source through our Source, Stock + Supply Program!
Source: Whole Foods Market Forecasts Top 10 Food Trends for 2024, Oct. 17, 2023