Whole Foods experts see alternative flours as a top trend in 2016

by Eric Schroeder
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Almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour
Alternative and wheat-free flours are among the top 10 food trends to watch in 2016.

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Alternative and wheat-free flours, as well as non-bioengineered fed verified products are among the top 10 food trends to watch in 2016, according to industry leaders with Whole Foods Market.

The grocery chain leaned on input from its experts who source items and lead trends across its cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments to develop its forecast for 2016.

The top 10 food trends to watch are:

• Alternative and wheat-free flours — According to Whole Foods, consumers are “going nuts for gluten-free flours made from legumes, ancient grains, teff, amaranth and nuts.” Additionally, chickpea flour is a “quick riser,” while other legume-based flours are showing up in bean-based pastas and other packaged goods.

• Non-G.M.O.-fed verified products — Whole Foods currently offers more than 11,000 non-G.M.O. verified choices and 25,000 organic options, and the company’s experts believe the G.M.O. movement will continue to gain momentum as consumers demand more transparency. Growth and innovation in the animal protein category is expected to be especially strong, Whole Foods said, due in large part to the recent development and approval of non-G.M.O. verification methods for animal feed.

Dehydrated broccoli
Whole Foods’ experts believe dehydrated foods like broccoli will make a mark in 2016.

• Dehydrated foods — Consumers continue to seek out healthier, whole food-based snacks with simple ingredients. Whole Foods’ experts believe dehydrated broccoli, Brussels sprout and parsnip chips are among the products expected to make a mark in 2016.

• Uncommon meat and seafood — Whole Foods’ experts said to expect lesser-known meat and seafood options to make their way from restaurant menus into mainstream kitchens. Items such as sirloin top, pork T-bone chop and Denver steaks are a few items gaining favor with at-home cooks. Other products expected to make a move into the mainstream are more sustainable seafood species such as Responsibly Farmed Paiche and wild-caught blue catfish.

• Plant-based everything — From quinoa protein in hair care products to vitamin-rich vegetables in frozen dessert pops, Whole Foods’ experts expect plants to play a leading role in products during 2016.

• Fermented foods and probiotics — Consumers are expected to seek out gut health and “go-for-it flavor,” according to Whole Foods. Products such as kimchi and gochujang will continue to gain steam, while innovative options such as chiogga beet kraut and non-dairy tonics will add variety, the retailer’s experts noted.

Maple Hill Creamery grass-fed yogurt
Maple Hill Creamery offers yogurt made from organic milk from grass-fed cows.

• Grass-fed 2.0 — Consumers will be faced with even more grass-fed products in 2016, according to Whole Foods. Brands to keep an eye on include Sweet Red Cheddar, Maple Hill Creamery, Organic Valley, Kerrygold, and meat-based snack makers EPIC and TANKA.

• Heirloom ingredients — Whole Foods’ experts said they expect heirloom ingredients, prized for flavors and traits that have been preserved for centuries, to make a comeback, and not just in the produce aisle. Packaged goods items featuring these ingredients to keep an eye on include Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn, Madecasse Chocolate made with heirloom cocoa and Seely’s Mint Patties made with heirloom black Mitcham peppermint.

• World flavors — Flavors from around the world will continue to make an impact, with flavors from the Far East and Middle East making significant gains, Whole Foods said. On-trend products include Saffron Road Korean Tacos, 365 Everyday Value Organic Sweet Sabi Mustard and 365 Everyday Value Organic Thai Curry Cashews.

• Wine in a can — American wine drinkers are becoming increasingly young, leading Whole Foods’ experts to predict a shift to options that provide accessibility and convenience. Specifically, wine in aluminum cans may be a trend to watch, the retailer said.
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