AUSTIN, TEXAS — Vegan jerky, globally inspired frozen treats and “fat bombs” are among the top food trends to watch in 2019, according to global buyers for Whole Foods Market.
To develop its forecast for 2019, the specialty grocery chain compiled input from the experts who source items and lead trends across the cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments for its more than 490 stores.
The top food trends include:
Pacific Rim flavors. Culinary inspiration from Asia, Oceania and the western coasts of North and South America may be seen on more menus and retail shelves next year. Tropical fruits such as guava, dragon fruit and passionfruit star in smoothie bowls and beverages, while jackfruit has emerged as a popular meat alternative, and monk fruit extract is making waves as a low-calorie sweetener. Look for products such as guava tropical vinaigrette, pineapple passionfruit sparkling mineral water, mango pudding mix and passionfruit coconut frozen fruit bars in the coming year.
Shelf-stable probiotics. On the heels of a fermented foods frenzy comes new gut-focused products popping up beyond the supplement and refrigerated aisles.
“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,” Whole Foods said.
Even cleaning products and beauty brands are making probiotic claims.
Phat fats. Fats have gained favor in recent years and are becoming more convenient to consume thanks to a swell of product innovations designed for the trendy ketogenic, paleo and grain-free diets.
“New integrations of fat sources — like keto-friendly nutrition bars crafted with MCT oil powder, coconut butter–filled chocolates, snacks affectionately called ‘fat bomb’ and a new wave of ready-to-drink vegan coffee beverages inspired by butter coffees — are busting on the scene allowing consumers to get their fat fill with convenient treats,” Whole Foods said. “Keep your eyes and taste buds open for popcorn made with grass-fed ghee, multiple flavors of ghee that range from sweet to savory, plus new variations on traditional meaty snacks like chicken chips and thin, crisped beef jerky.”
Next-level hemp. Already a rising star in supplements, cannabidiol, or C.B.D., is set to surge in food and beverage innovation. This compound of cannabis does not create psychoactive effects and is associated with a host of health benefits, yet there remains a murky regulatory landscape for the ingredient.
“While C.B.D. oil is still technically taboo (prohibited in food, body care and dietary supplements under federal law), retailers, culinary experts and consumers can’t miss the cannabis craze when visiting food industry trade shows, food innovators conferences or even local farmer’s markets,” Whole Foods said. “Non-cannabis-derived sources from the endocannabinoid system (which are named after the cannabis plant that inspired their discovery), like phytocannabinoids that exist in nature, are also becoming more visible and prevalent due to the growing trend. It’s clear that hemp-derived products are going mainstream, if not by wide distribution, then by word of mouth.”
Faux meat snacks. From pork-free rinds to “baconless” bits, plant-based interpretations of popular meat snack formats provide the flavors and textures associated with classic road trip fare.
“While plant-based foods aren’t exactly a new trend, our experts noted 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,” Whole Foods said. “Mushrooms like king trumpet will play a key role here, flexing their flavor and texture powers in tasty jerky, ‘pork’ rinds and ‘bacon’ snacks to offer up a satisfying crunch.”
Eco-conscious packaging. Expect to see more multi-use and compostable food wraps and recyclable straws in the coming year as companies and consumers alike double down on reducing waste. Brands featuring environmentally friendly packaging include Square Organics, Numi Organic Tea, Alter Eco and Lotus Foods, among a growing number of others.
Trailblazing frozen treats. The frozen dessert section is welcoming more plant-based pints and globally inspired treats in the new year. Think creamy, non-dairy bases such as avocado, hummus, tahini and coconut water, as well as Taiwanese snow ice, Mexican sorbets and chewy Turkish ice creams.
“Look down specialty frozen aisles and you might find plant-based frozen desserts like CocoWhip Soft Serve and ice creams with savory swirls of artisanal cheese (and don’t think you’ll stop seeing those low calorie, high protein players in the frozen aisle anytime soon),” Whole Foods said. “Popsicles and gelatos won’t be left out of the fun — they’ll get some buzz with boozier infusions coming to market.”
Marine munchies beyond seaweed. Sea ingredients are showing up in a broad range of applications, from seaweed butter and kelp noodles to puffed water lily seeds and crispy salmon skins.
“A salty sea fennel and olive blend will debut on Whole Foods Market olive bars in 2019, and brands like Ocean’s Halo include kelp as an ingredient in all their miso and ramen broths, condiments and sauces,” Whole Foods said.
Snack time upgraded. Childhood snacking staples such as marshmallow treats and cheese puffs are going gourmet in recent launches. Packaged bites of prosciutto and aged mozzarella elevate the mid-afternoon munch.
“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,” Whole Foods said.
Purchases that empower. Consumers will continue to reward responsible companies, such as Greyston Bakery, which uses an open hiring model to promote “radical inclusion” within its workforce.
“In 2019, thoughtful consideration behind purchases moves beyond (but doesn’t exclude) environmental stewardship and animal welfare, and becomes more people-focused,” Whole Foods said. “Contributing toward social movements via purchasing goods and services with missions you believe in can make for big changes that extend far beyond the world of retail.”