As 2023 winds down, Whole Foods Market has released its top 10 anticipated food trends for 2024. The annual predictions report is composed by the grocer’s Trends Council—a group of more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including foragers, buyers, and culinary experts.
“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.
Here are Whole Foods Market’s top 10 trending items to watch for 2024:
Simple Ingredient Plant Products
Complex meat alternatives are out and protein-forward products made with simple ingredients such as mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh, and legumes are in. This shift is already permeating the plant-based industry, as Veggie Grill just announced a menu refresh that will bring the chain back to its whole-ingredient roots.
As upcycling continues to gain popularity, utilizing by-products like cacao pulp (a practice that other countries have done for centuries) is a trend to watch in 2024. Instead of being discarded and wasted, cacao pulp is now being made into jellies and jams. Likewise, new cacao fruit powders are a sugar alternative that doesn’t compromise on sweet, ambrosial flavor.
Buckwheat has a lot going for it. It’s used as a cover crop to support soil health; it’s a superfood containing protein, carbs, and fiber; and it’s naturally gluten free. As more brands embrace regenerative agriculture, buckwheat could show up in everything from plant-based milk alternatives to crackers and granola.
Fancy Faux Fish
Caviar is no longer just for the wealthy elite—the delicacy has exploded in popularity over the last several years and fancy fish has become a hot commodity. As such, plant-based brands are capitalizing on the trend and creating innovative alternative seafood products. Look for carrots masquerading as lox, trumpet mushrooms subbing in for scallops, and the root vegetable konjac appearing in sushi rolls and poke bowls.
In 2024, products promoting water conservation will be all over the grocery store. Whether it’s responsibly-farmed foods or lifestyle brands touting water-conscious products like dry shampoo, shampoo bars, and laundry detergent sheets—consumers and brands are rallying together in the interest of water stewardship.
Peppers are so hot right now—both literally and figuratively—and they are only getting hotter. In fact, the hot pepper expert from South Carolina who crossbred and grew the California Reaper (previously the world’s hottest pepper) a decade ago just broke his own record with a pepper that’s three times hotter.
Ramen is All the Rage
Brands are embracing consumers’ love for ramen with new elevated takes on the old classics, often made without certain preservatives or added MSG. Demand for simple, convenient meals is unwavering and noodles bring all the comfort of a warm meal without the hassle of extensive preparation.
Little Treat Culture
TikTok is a constant source of inspiration for food trends, and the introduction of “Little Treat Culture” has got brands shrinking both the cost and format of their products. Little treats may be daily rituals, like commuting with bubble tea, or spontaneous rewards, like tossing a cookie or a bath bomb into the cart. Either way, shoppers are looking for single-serving pack sizes that are easy to buy on impulse without breaking the bank.
Social media has made it possible for women to have more public conversations about their health, shedding light on symptoms and life stages that were previously swept under the rug. Brands have taken notice and are now making new products for periods, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause. Some companies are even introducing specially formulated foods for different aspects of women’s health, like menopause energy bars.
Caffeine With Purpose
Sure, a caffeine buzz is great—but what about caffeine with added functional benefits? That’s an even better boost. In 2024, expect to see new coffee and energy drinks enhanced with functional ingredients such as mushrooms, adaptogens, probiotics, and more.
The Food Institute Podcast
Consumers have been hammered by the one-two punch of the pandemic and inflation, which is impacting what groceries they buy and where they purchase these items. RBC Capital Markets managing director Nik Modi discusses cost pressures for CPG makers, a consumer shift to the perimeter of the grocery store, and increasing credit issues among consumers.