Last month, Whole Foods Market released its top food & beverage trend predictions for next year. In-line with many of the trends we’ve seen evolve over 2019 at trade shows and grocery retailers in the US, there’s no doubt the US food & beverage landscape is more exciting than ever.
As part of larger sustainability and eco-consciousness movement, food manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the environment. The term “regenerative agriculture” itself refers to the farming practice which encourages biodiversity, restoration of degraded soil, and carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits.
Diverse Cooking & Baking Flours
On the heels of the paleo & ketogenic diet trends, many new types of cooking & baking flours have emerged. Aside from traditional wheat and grain flours, other innovative types of flours are being made from vegetables and nuts like cauliflower and coconut. The flours may be sold as a standalone product, in the bulk section of the store, or baked into products like bread, sweets, and snacks. Trendy flours not only appeal to those on restrictive diets but also to those eager to be creative with their baking and cooking.
West African Foods
New and innovative flavors have been proliferating the US food & beverage market for quite some time now, particularly those hailing from far-reaching corners of the globe. In 2020, Whole Foods Market predicts West African foods to take center-stage with flavors including ginger, moringa, and lemongrass & grains like sorghum, teff, and millet.
Refrigerated Healthy Snacking
Snacking foods continue to be one of the most innovative and rapidly expanding categories in US grocery retail. In particular, healthy snacks found in the refrigerated section are one of the newest trends including hard-boiled eggs, pickled vegetables, plant-based dips, and drinkable soups. These snacks continue to be inconvenient single-serving portions, but make the days of boring chips and pretzels far-gone.
Plant-Based, Beyond Soy
While the plant-based protein space is rapidly growing, soy is actually lagging behind as consumers move on to other sources including mung bean, hemp, and pumpkin seed which offer the same amino acid profile. Similarly, consumers are trading soy-based condiments for amino or seaweed/algal flavors, and tofu for pea-protein meat alternatives.
Butters and Spreads
Long gone are the days of just peanut butter; even almond butter seems boring now that watermelon seed butter, pumpkin butter, macadamia, and chickpea butter have made their way to the shelves. These spreads are not just displacing peanut butter but also coming after hummus and other creamy plant-based spreads. They’re full of flavor and superfoods offering keto and paleo diet-friendly options.
Innovation in Kids Snacks
Kids are no longer assumed to be boring and picky eaters. Trendy new meal and snack items are charging full-speed at these little consumers with unexpected flavors and ingredient profiles. Colorful veggie-based pasta, salmon nuggets, roasted seaweed, and savory bars can now be found on shelves to offer kids their first foray into “foodie” experiences.
Alternative Sugars and Sweeteners
Sugar alternatives have been around for a while – stevia, honey, and maple syrup. But new sources of sweetness are beginning to grow rapidly offering a multitude of baking and cooking ingredients. Monk fruit and sweet potato nectar are some of the newest and most versatile players; more niche and specific products include sorghum syrup and erythritol combined with fruit starch.
Meat and Plant Blends
While the meat and meat alternative markets seem to be growing in mutually exclusive parallel, Whole Foods Market has identified the grey area in between them as a category growth whitespace. The James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project pioneered the combining 75% meat / 25% mushroom burger aimed at reducing meat consumption without sacrificing protein, taste or versatility. In response, brands have begun selling pre-made blended burgers to consumers eager to reduce meat consumption but leery of 100% plant-based protein products. These products appeal directly to flexitarians and can be found right in the meat counter at some Whole Foods Market locations.
Many consumers are saying “no” to alcohol for periods of time, participating in Dry January or the Whole 30. In response, manufacturers are starting to offer non-alcoholic beverages to allow consumers to not feel left out while refraining from booze. Most namely, Heineken introduced an alcohol-free beer earlier this year. Smaller brand’s products include sparking hop teas, ginger beers, craft alcoholic IPA beers, and zero-proof sparking cocktail beverages.