While 2023 was all about avocado oil and climate-conscious products, the folks at Whole Foods are already looking ahead to 2024 and predicting the food trends we will be talking about for many months to come. The retailer just shared its ninth-annual trends predictions, and it looks like next year will be loaded with buckwheat, fancy faux fish, and spicy condiments with new levels of complexity, from a bevy of brands.
The report, which was released on Oct. 17, was compiled by a Trends Council that consists of more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members. This includes local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts, who forecast trend predictions based on decades of experience and expertise in product sourcing, as well as studying consumer preferences.
“Our annual food trends predictions list is a way for us to pull back the curtain for customers and share insight into what our buyers and culinary experts are keeping on their radar for the upcoming year,” said Cathy Strange, Ambassador of Food Culture for Whole Foods Market and member of the Trends Council. “From specific product ingredients and flavor trends, to growing movements in the food industry, we can’t wait to see these trends gain momentum in the year ahead.”
In years past, the Whole Foods team has predicted the rise in popularity of edible items and trends such as yuzu, hibiscus, and pasta made from produce, so there’s no reason to believe that this crop of predictions won’t be accurate. Keep reading for a list of must-have food items for 2024.
Putting the “Plant” back in “Plant-Based”
In recent years, plant-based foods have been made with a litany of interesting ingredients such as pea protein, potato starch, and coconut oil. However, Whole Foods predicts that actual plants—think mushrooms and legumes—will be making a comeback in meatless items. Keep an eye out for veggie burgers made with kale and broccoli, as well as plant-based milks crafted with just two ingredients.
Embrace the Whole Cacao
Cacao pulp is a cacao byproduct that’s typically discarded, but food brands are now changing their tune, utilizing the pulp to make cacao water, jellies, and jams. This trend is especially helpful for those seeking a new sugar alternative without compromising on sweet, ambrosial flavor.
Buckle Up for Buckwheat
Buckwheat, which is technically part of a group of seeds that are consumed as cereal grains, is about to become more popular than ever before. The superfood is an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, and promotes soil health. Since it’s also naturally gluten-free, buckwheat is ideal for those with a gluten intolerance. Look for it in products like alternative milks, granola, and crackers.
Fancy Faux Fish
Tinned fish is having a moment, and now it’s time for fancy faux fish to enjoy its turn in the spotlight. While plant-based fish might not sound intriguing to some, rest assured that several worthy plant-based seafood brands are stepping up and bringing the flavor and texture needed to rival the real thing. Watch out for carrots in place of lox, trumpet mushrooms for scallops, and a root vegetable called konjac popping up in sushi rolls and poke bowls.
Conserving water may not be something you actively think about while you’re shopping for groceries, but luckily there are a few companies that are doing the work for you. Some lifestyle brands are pushing water-conscious offerings like dry shampoos, shampoo bars, and laundry detergent sheets, while a handful of food brands are recycling water when creating their products.
By now you’re likely familiar with jalapeños and chili peppers, but get ready to become acquainted with different pepper varieties such as Scorpion Peppers and Guajillo or Hungarian Goathorn Peppers. These spicy foods are found fresh, whole, ground, or pickled, and are popping up in a new wave of botana sauces and chili oils in condiment aisles nationwide. Keep an eye out for a new crop of pepper-infused drinks as well.
There’s nothing wrong with dressing up a bowl of instant ramen, but if you’re tired of those extra steps, you’ll be happy to know that ramen brands are stepping up their game. Shoppers can now find gourmet options to rival the classics without certain preservatives and added MSG. Look for Momofuku Tingly Chili Wavy Noodles, Lotus Foods Spicy Kimchi Rice Ramen Noodle Soup, and similar items.
We can credit TikTok for this trend, thanks to the prevalence of “Little Treat Culture” on the social media platform. Now, brands are getting in on the luxe fun by offering items that are small, cost-effective, but certainly luxurious. Keep your eyes peeled for products like Petit Pot Crème Brulee and Strawberry Cheesecake, Whole Foods Market’s Self-Serve Macarons, and more.
Once taboo, women’s health is now top of mind. According to the team at Whole Foods, more brands are currently making products to support periods, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, and even sleep. Additionally, food innovators are introducing specially formulated bars and snacks for cycle health, such as menopause energy bars.
A Better Boost
For many, the day doesn’t start until they’ve had at least one cup of coffee. Now, there are new ways to get the absolute most out of your morning or afternoon pick-me-up. Look for new coffee and energy drinks with added mushrooms, probiotics, and more so you can get a caffeine boost with additional health benefits.