Whole Foods Market’s Trends Council, a collective of more than 50 experts including culinary professionals, buyers, and foragers, has released its highly anticipated annual report, predicting the top 10 food trends for 2024. Every year, the council studies consumer buying behaviors along with emerging and existing brand data to make trend predictions for the upcoming year.
The report indicates a strong emphasis on plant-based options, signaling a shift in consumer preferences towards more natural and less processed choices.
Cathy Strange of Whole Foods Market commented, “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.”
Put the ‘Plant’ Back in ‘Plant-Based
One of the first notable trends is “Put the ‘Plant’ Back in ‘Plant-Based,” spotlighting plant-based brands that focus on simplicity and whole food ingredients. Emerging brands are embracing whole vegetables, such as mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh, and legumes, as alternatives to complex meat substitutes.
Plant-based brands and products highlighted include:
Actual Veggies Green Burger: Actual Veggies produces a line of chef-created, gourmet, 100% vegetable burgers. The company has reported over 300% growth in the past year, and its Green Burger patties contain only whole veggies like kale, broccoli, and spinach.
Meati Carne Asada Steaks: Meati creates meat alternatives from a specific type of mycelium it calls MushroomRoot. The Carne Asada Steak debuted last year, featuring a whole-cut MushroomRoot filet seasoned with cumin, paprika, and other spices.
Abbot’s Butcher Plant-Based Chopped Chick’n: Abbot’s Butcher is not a traditional butcher. The company creates plant-based meat alternatives using clean ingredients like yellow peas and porcini mushrooms, and all its products are free from soy, gluten, and preservatives, along with being NonGMO project verified and Whole30 Approved. The Chopped Chick’n is a versatile plant-based chicken alternative with tender, slow-roasted pieces.
Atlantic Sea Farms Basil Pesto Sea-Veggie Burger: The star ingredient of the Sea-Veggie Burger from Atlantic Sea Farms is regeneratively grown kelp, the company’s primary ingredient. Atlantic Sea Farms is a women-led company producing domestically cultivated and non-GMO kelp in Maine.
Three Trees Organic Original Unsweetened Almondmilk: Three Trees is the maker of organic nut milks that are USDA organic certified. The Original Unsweetened Almondmilk is made with just two ingredients, almonds and water, taking it back to the basics.
Fancy Faux Fish
Another prominent trend predicted in the report is “Fancy Faux Fish,” which suggests that the plant-based seafood market is set for significant growth. As an alternative to traditional seafood, innovative brands are introducing products with flavors and textures that rival the real thing to cater to both the plant-based market and those seeking to reduce their seafood consumption.
Alternative seafood brands and products highlighted include:
Konscious Plant-Based California Roll and Plant-Based Tuna Poke Bowl: Konscious launched its plant-based sushi in Whole Foods only a few months ago with both frozen and fresh options. Using clean ingredients like konjac, an Asian root vegetable, as the base for its plant-based tuna, the company has quickly become a hit among consumers.
Good Catch Plant-Based New England Style Crab Cakes: Good Catch Foods uses a ‘secret’ blend of six legumes to create a flaky texture and taste reminiscent of traditional seafood, but without the animals. The frozen crab cakes are available at Whole Foods, along with the plant-based tuna and salmon burgers.
TMRW Ocean Cakes: With a focus on imagination rather than imitation, Canada-based TMRW’s plant-based products elevate the flavors of plants. The Ocean Cakes feature simple ingredients like jackfruit, seaweed, and capers and have a light, flaky texture.
Save da Sea Plant-Based Smoked Salmon and Tuna Salad: Save da Sea is another Canadian innovator in the plant-based seafood space, with its popular plant-based smoked salmon made with carrots, and tuna salad made from jackfruit.
Seed to Surf Plant-Based Tinned Seafood: Sea to Surf uses whole vegetables to recreate the seafood experience while highlighting the potential of plants. The company was part of Whole Foods Market’s 2023 LEAP Early Growth Cohort, and its tinned seafood lineup includes Mushroom Snow Crab and Celery Root Whitefish.
Further trends highlighted in the predictions report include regenerative agriculture and water stewardship, specialty varieties of spicy peppers, gourmet ramen, and women’s health. Strange concluded, “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.”
Find the full Whole Foods Top 10 Food Trends Report here.