Bleeding veggie burgers, edible flowers and tree-based sparkling waters could be the most popular foods of next year.
Whole Foods – the organics pioneer and Jeff Bezos-backed supermarket – peered into its crystal milk jug and unveiled what it sees as the biggest food trends for 2018. With the opening of the new Alston Town Center location in Cary on Tuesday, Whole Foods now has six locations in the Triangle.
The forecast comes from Whole Foods’ buyers, with many variations on old favorites, continuations of trends from this year and some simply out of left field.
Wake up with a cup of mushrooms
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Touting the health benefits and rich, earthy flavor of mushrooms, Whole Foods believes certain varieties of fungi will rise to prominence in 2018. Look out for mushrooms in everything from cold brew coffees and cocoa to nutritional powders to even shower gels.
Veggie Burger 2.0
The plant-based trend has been building steadily for years, but new products are doing more than making veggie versions of hard-to-give-up classics, they’re mimicking them. Now, veggie burgers bleed beet juice, and expertly sliced tomatoes stand in for tuna in sushi. Whole Foods predicts vegan desserts like frosting, brownies and creme brulee and new milks made from nuts, peas and bananas. Next year, the grocer thinks avocado ice cream goes mainstream.
A taco by any other name
Your beloved taco might take on new forms next year. Think seaweed-wrapped poke tacos or shaved jicama taco shells, as well as companies venturing into heirloom varieties of corn for more flavorful tortillas. The Choco-Taco has been around for decades, and Whole Foods expects to see more takes on tacos for dessert, as well as breakfast.
Don’t throw that out
A revelation fell off the turnip truck that both root and stem have value. Often the world divides into those who eat the green and those who eat the root, but more and more chefs, consumers and vendors are finding ways to use every bit of the plant. In the spirit of whole-animal butchery, where modern tastes have led to a demand for the less choice cuts of meat, the stalks of broccoli or Brussels sprouts are now finding their way into slaws, celery leaves are used like herbs, and melon rinds are pickled.
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Bubbles are here to stay
Flavored sparkling water has become a way of life, with brands and varieties existing at the outer edges of identity. LaCroix is the most well known, but others are starting to bubble to the surface. Mexican mineral water Topo Chico pops up more and more, but will variations like grapefruit and lime become easier to find? Whole Foods expects consumers to venture into tree brewed styles from company Sap!, which makes drinks from maple and birch. Look for more carbonated cold brew coffees, such as those from Stumptown, as well as their collaboration with Raleigh’s Slingshot last year called “Long Distance Relationship,” blending cold brew coffee and cascara tea.
Sour cream and onion potato chips were once the edgy side of snack foods, but in recent years, companies have launched all kinds of new flavors and textures, from red curry to everything bagel to Nashville Hot Chicken. Whole Foods predicts more people will look turn to potato alternatives next year: puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava bean chips, parsnip and Brussels sprout chips.
I’ll be your Captain today
Consumers are demanding more information than ever about where their food comes from, the conditions in which it was raised or farmed and how it came to their shopping cart. In an attempt to address those demands, Whole Foods says starting next year all of its canned tuna will be one fish caught on one line rather than a net and that its foods will have more information about whether they were genetically modified.
Middle Eastern flavors
Tastes have become more and more global over the past couple of decades, but the spotlight is finally finding Middle Eastern flavors. Fans of hot and spicy foods should try cooking with harissa, and more menus are featuring traditional or variations on shakshuka. Whole Foods expects to see people eating grilling-cheese halloumi, using more chickpea paste tahini, as well as pistachios and dried fruits.
Higher-end restaurants have been using edible flowers as ingredients and garnishes for years, but look out for a few fragrant blooms to make their way into home kitchens. Lavender is already out there, but hibiscus and elderflower are popping up more and more. There’s a dark chocolate made with violet-flavored marshmallows and a lemonade scented with elderflower.
Beyond bulking up
In coffee shops, 2017 was the year of matcha, with the green tea powder often ordered in richly colored lattes. Long the muscle-building base for those at the gym, powders have moved beyond protein. Powdered egg whites are in granola bars, and bright yellow tumeric root is showing up everywhere, including milks and tonics.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson