Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, released its survey of the Top 10 most anticipated food trends for the year ahead.
1. Floral flavors.
Foragers and culinary stars have embraced edible petals for years, but floral inspiration is finally in full bloom. From adding whole flowers and petals into dishes to infusing botanical flavors into drinks and snacks, this top trend makes for a subtly sweet taste and fresh aromatics. Look for flowers used like herbs in things like lavender lattés and rose-flavored everything. Bright pink hibiscus teas are a hot (and iced) part of the trend, while elderflower is the new most valuable petal of cocktails and bubbly drinks.
2. Super powders.
Powders are serious power players. Because they’re so easy to incorporate, they’ve found their way into lattés, smoothies, nutrition bars, soups and baked goods. For an energy boost or an alternative to coffee, powders like matcha, maca root and cacao are showing up in mugs everywhere. Ground turmeric powder is still on the rise. Smoothie fans are raising a glass to powders like spirulina, kale, herbs and roots for an oh-so-green vibrancy. Even protein powders have evolved beyond bodybuilders to pack in new nutrients like skin- and hair-enhancing collagen.
3. Functional mushrooms.
Functional mushrooms are traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements. Now, varieties like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane star in products across categories as well as bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas. The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee flavors.
4. Feast from the Middle East.
Middle Eastern culinary influences have made their way west for years, and 2018 will bring these traditions into the mainstream. Things like hummus, pita and falafel were tasty entry points, but now consumers are ready to explore the deep traditions, regional nuances and classic ingredients of Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences rising to the top. Spices like harissa, cardamom and za’atar are hitting more menus, as well as dishes like shakshuka, grilled halloumi and lamb. Other trending Middle Eastern ingredients include pomegranate, eggplant, cucumber, parsley, mint, tahini, tomato jam and dried fruits.
5. Transparency 2.0.
More is more when it comes to product labeling. Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top-of-mind, but shoppers seek out other details too, such as Fair Trade-certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards.
6. High-tech goes plant-forward.
Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table too. By using science to advance recipes and manipulate plant-based ingredients and proteins, these techniques are creating mind-bending alternatives like “bleeding” vegan burgers or sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes. These new production techniques are also bringing some new varieties of nut milks and yogurts made from pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts and pecans. And, dairy-free indulgences like vegan frosting, brownies, ice cream, brioche and crème brûlée are improving on taste.
7. Puffed and popped snacks.
Crunchy snacks are perennial favorites, but new technology is revolutionizing all things puffed, popped, dried and crisped. New extrusion methods have paved the way for popped cassava chips, puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips and puffed rice clusters. Good old-fashioned chips also receive an upgrade as part of the trend, with better-for-you bites like jicama, parsnip or Brussels sprout crisps.
8. Tacos come out of their shell.
There’s no slowing down the craze for all things Latin American, but the taco trend has a life of its own. This street food star is no longer limited to a tortilla or to savory recipes. That’s because tacos are showing up for breakfast too. Most of all, tacos are shedding their shell for new kinds of wrappers and fillings – think seaweed wrappers with poke filling. Classic tacos aren’t going anywhere, but greater attention to ingredients is upping their game. One end of the spectrum is hyper-authentic cooking with things like heirloom corn tortillas or classic barbacoa.
Between nose-to-tail butchery and reducing food waste, a few forces are combining to inspire root-to-stem cooking, which makes use of the entire fruit or vegetable, including the stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten. Recipes like pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto or broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumers to new flavors and textures from old favorites.
10. Say cheers to the other bubbly.
There’s an entire booming category of sparkling beverages vying for consumer attention. Just don’t call them “soda.” These drinks are a far cry from their sugary predecessors. Flavored sparkling waters like plant-derived options and sparkling cold brew are shaking up a fizzy fix.