Each year, a trends council of more than 50 Whole Food Market team members narrows down everything going on in the industry to the top 10 anticipated food trends for the coming year. For 2021, retailers can expect hard kombucha, upcycled foods, leveled-up breakfasts and jerky made from produce to gain traction.
“There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020. For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas. “Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception.”
The group of local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts came together to compile the list, and here are the 10 trend predictions for 2021:
- Well-being is served: The lines are blurring between the supplement and grocery aisles, and that trend will accelerate in 2021. That means superfoods, probiotics, broths and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system.
- Epic breakfast every day: With more people working from home, the most important meal is getting the attention it deserves, not just on weekends, but every day. There’s a whole lineup of innovative products tailored to people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Think pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites and even “eggs” made from mung beans.
- Basics on fire: With more time in the kitchen, home chefs are looking for hot new takes on pantry staples. Pasta, sauces, spices — the basics will never be boring again. Get ready for reimagined classics like hearts-of-palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and “meaty” vegan soup.
- Coffee beyond the mug: The love affair between humans and coffee burns way beyond a brewed pot of joe. That’s right, java is giving a jolt to all kinds of food. You can now get your coffee fix in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, and even coffee yogurt for those looking to crank up that breakfast parfait.
- Baby food, all grown up: Thanks to some inspired culinary innovation, parents have never had a wider or richer range of ingredients to choose from. Available options are portable squeeze pouches full of rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds. Little eaters, big flavors.
- Upcycled foods: Peels and stems have come a long way from the compost bin. There's a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods, made from ingredients that would have otherwise been food waste, help to maximize the energy used to produce, transport and prepare that ingredient.
- Oil change: Slide over, olive oil. There’s a different crop of oils coming for that place in the skillet or salad dressing. At-home chefs are branching out with oils that each add their own unique flavor and properties. Walnut and pumpkin seed oils lend a delicious nutty flavor, while sunflower seed oil is hitting the shelves in a bunch of new products and is versatile enough to use at high temps or in salad dressing.
- Boozed-up booch: Alcoholic kombucha is making a strong flex on the beverage aisle. Hard kombucha checks all of the boxes: It’s gluten-free, it’s super bubbly, and it can be filled with live probiotic cultures.
- The mighty chickpea: The time has come to think beyond hummus, falafel, and even chickpea pasta. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower — popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and even chickpea cereal.
- Fruit and veggie jerky: Jerky isn’t just for meat lovers anymore. Now all kinds of produce, from mushrooms to jackfruit, are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies. The produce is dried at peak freshness to preserve nutrients and yumminess. If that’s not enough, suppliers are literally spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle.
How well did Whole Foods Market predict the 2020 trends? Take a look.
Owned by Seattle-based Amazon, Whole Foods is No. 24 on The PG 100,PG's 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Amazon is No. 2 on the list.