Plant-Based Food Dominates Whole Foods’ 2018 Food Trend Predictions

Plant-Based Food Dominates Whole Foods' 2018 Food Trend Predictions
iStock/LPETTET

Amazon’s Whole Foods Market announced its top food trend predictions for 2018 yesterday, calling on its team’s “more than 100 years of combined experience,” in making the predictions – most of which center around a shift toward plant-based themes as well as a more transparent food system, including its long-promised mandatory GMO labeling for all items sold in stores.

“Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table, too,” the chain said in a statement. “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. Dairy-free indulgences like vegan frosting, brownies, ice cream, brioche and crème brûlée are getting so delicious, non-vegans won’t know the difference.”

Whole Foods pointed to category leader Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger as leading the trend, as well as Ocean Hugger’s new tomato tuna, Ripple milk made from pea protein, and other rising brands including plant-based seafood manufacturer Sophie’s Kitchen, up and comers in the nondairy category Malk, Mooala, Forager, and Cado, which makes ice cream from avocados.

The chain’s other predictions all also had plant-based or vegan themes, from floral flavors popping up in everything from drinks to snacks, to more mushrooms (technically not a plant but fungus), powdered vegetables, puffed beans and legume snacks, and a focus on Middle Eastern flavors “with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences rising to the top.”

Pushing nose-to-tail dining off the table is the more Millennial and Generation Z friendly “root-to-stem” trend of cooking whole vegetables like the popular whole roasted cauliflowers popping up on menus across the country. Whole Foods says the trend is a combination of reducing food waste and food innovation. “Recipes like pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto or broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumers to new flavors and textures from old favorites.”

And with concern over the safety of GMOs, the company reiterated its commitment to clear labeling.

“In September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all items in stores,” the retailer explained. It first announced it would move to mandatory GMO labeling in 2013, but critics were doubtful the chain would follow through on its promise, particularly as Congress passed regulations on GMO labeling last year.

The chain’s labeling commitment will extend beyond the GMO issue, the company said.

“More is more when it comes to product labeling,” the company said. “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.”

Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon earlier this year, and the retail giant just announced plans to expand its number of stores as well as add new formats.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.