Whole Foods Market has unveiled its ninth annual collection of food trend forecasts, drawing from the insights and assessments of its internal trends council. This group, comprising over 50 culinary connoisseurs, foragers, and buyers, predicts that as we transition from 2023 to 2024, consumers will prioritize a harmonious blend of flavor, sustainability, and a desire for culinary adventures. “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,” remarked Cathy Strange, Ambassador of Food Culture for Whole Foods Market and member of the trends council. “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.”
Top 10 Food Trend Predictions for 2024
1. Put the “Plant” Back in “Plant-Based”
Plant-based meat alternatives like mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh, and legumes are making a comeback, thereby cutting the number of ingredients in vegetarian products. Whole Foods Market expects renewed interest in basic plant-based foods like veggie burgers and simple-ingredient plant-based milks.
2. Use the Whole Cacao
Companies are finding new uses for cacao pulp, the fleshy white substance that surrounds cocoa beans, often considered a byproduct of cocoa. Jams, jellies and fruit powders made from cacao pulp are an option for brands seeking a new sugar alternative delivering a natural sweetness and subtle acidity.
3. Buckle Up for Buckwheat
Buckwheat is an excellent choice of cover crop that enhances soil health. It is also a gluten-free superfood seed packed with protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. Whole Foods Market expects more brands to incorporate buckwheat into product formulas from plant-based milk alternatives to crackers and granola.
4. Fancy Faux Fish
With tinned fish and caviar gaining popularity earlier this year, Whole Foods Market expects vegan fish alternatives to takeoff in 2024. Plant-based seafood alternatives are surfacing, from for carrots in place of lox, trumpet mushrooms for scallops, and konjac getting in sushi rolls and poke bowls.
5. Clean and Conserve: Water Stewardship
Brands spanning various product categories are advocating water conservation and stewardship. Emerging water brands are now utilizing water sourced from fruit by-products, which would otherwise go to waste. Simultaneously, as the trend of regenerative agriculture gains momentum, it indirectly contributes to water preservation. Non-governmental organizations are backing the cultivation of oysters on farms, leveraging aquaculture to filter water and aid in the restoration of coastal ecosystems. Lifestyle brands are also introducing water-conscious products such as dry shampoos, shampoo bars, and laundry detergent sheets. Additionally, ingredient-conscious items make a difference by preventing toxic ingredients from entering waterways.
6. Complex Heat
Global pepper varieties like Scorpion Peppers, Guajillo or Hungarian Goathorn peppers are popping up across product categories. Complex heat products are making appearances in fresh, whole, ground, or pickled forms. Whole Foods Trends Council is noticing an influx of pepper-infused beverages like kombuchas, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and canned tepache.
7. Noodle News
In recent years, social media has boosted the popularity of instant ramen and the multitude of at-home variations to dress up noodle bowls. Brands are responding with more convenient and gourmet noodles without preservatives and added MSG.
8. Little Luxuries
The trend of enjoying smaller, guilt-free indulgences in the realm of desserts appears poised for another remarkable year in 2024. Influential TikTok creators have played a significant role in popularizing what’s being called the “Little Treat Culture,” making it a prominent topic of discussion and a staple in shopping carts. Whole Foods Market has shared noteworthy examples of this trend, particularly impulse purchases like mini macarons and single-serving luxuries that bring delight without straining one’s budget.
9. Women’s Health: From Taboo to Top of Mind
New and unique women’s health products have also seen a boost from social media. Food innovations and self-care offerings that support women’s health are on the rise including products for periods, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and sleep.
10. A Better Boost
Whole Foods Market trend spotters are highlighting ways that shoppers can get the most out of their cup of coffee with added mushrooms, probiotics, herbal supplements and more.