AUSTIN, TEXAS — Japanese cuisine, alternative pastas and purple produce are among the top food trends to watch in 2017, according to global buyers for Whole Foods Market.
To develop its forecast for 2017, the grocery chain compiled input from the experts who source items and lead trends across the cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments for its more than 465 stores.
The top food trends include:
Wellness tonics. Medicinal mushrooms, apple cider vinegar and turmeric are making a splash in a wave of beverages inspired by alternative medicine and global traditions. Product examples include Kor Organic Raw Shots, Suja Drinking Vinegars and Temple Turmeric Elixirs.
Products from byproducts. Brands are discovering innovative ways to repurpose leftover ingredients from food production, such as spent grains from beer and whey from Greek yogurt. Sir Kensington’s, a condiment brand, uses the remaining liquid from chickpea production known as aquafaba to create a vegan mayonnaise. Companies such as Atlanta Fresh and White Moustache have transformed wasted whey from yogurt manufacture into probiotic drinks.
Coconut everything. On the heels of the coconut water craze comes a spate of new products featuring the tropical fruit, including flours, tortillas, chips, frozen desserts, spreads and more. Even the personal care category is tapping into the trend, with coconut oil cropping up in a growing number of beauty products.
Beyond sushi. Japanese cuisine is on a roll, with such staples as ponzu, miso, sesame oil and plum vinegar hitting mainstream menus and American pantries. Seaweed’s recent rise to fame has inspired shoppers to seek out more varieties, including kelp, wakame, dulse and nori. Additionally, Japanese-style pickles are expected to gain traction among U.S. consumers.
“The trend will also impact breakfast and dessert, as shoppers experiment with savory breakfast bowl combinations and a growing number of mochi flavors like green tea and matcha, black sesame, pickled plum, yuzu citrus and Azuki bean,” Whole Foods said. “This is playing out in products like 365 Everyday Value Sweet Sabi mustard, Republic of Tea’s new Super Green Tea Matcha blends and recipes like Coconut Mochi Cakes.”
Creative condiments. Globally inspired sauces, dips and spreads are kicking ketchup to the curb. Such previously unfamiliar condiments as black sesame tahini, habanero jam, ghee, pomegranate molasses, black garlic puree, piri piri sauce and others are finding their way to menus and retail shelves. Product examples include Mina Harissa and Fronterra Adobo Sauces in such varieties as ancho, chipotle and guajillo.
Rethinking pasta. Health-conscious consumers are seeking noodles made from quinoa, lentils, chickpeas or even vegetables, a trend rooted in the burgeoning plant-based eating movement. Also growing in popularity are more traditional fresh-milled and seasonal pastas, “which means pasta is cruising into new territories with something for everyone,” according to Whole Foods.
Purple power. Associated with disease-fighting anthocyanins, the purple hue is hot in packaged food products, including Jackson’s Honest Purple Heirloom Potato Chips, Peace Cereal Purple Corn Flakes and Back to the Roots Purple Corn Cereal. In addition to purple corn and purple potatoes, other such vibrantly violet ingredients include purple cauliflower, black rice, purple asparagus, elderberries and acai.
Flexitarian. Rather than strictly align with one particular diet, consumers are embracing a more flexible, personalized approach to healthy eating.
“For instance, eating vegan before 6 p.m., or eating paleo five days a week, or gluten-free whenever possible allows consumers more flexibility,” Whole Foods said, citing growing demand for such products as cauliflower rice, cashew yogurt and bone broth.