Lately, the end of the year, amongst other things, means lists of predictions about various trends for the year to come. From colours and fashion to tech and food, there’s a forecast for everything. Following this novel tradition, Whole Foods has released a prediction of the 10 trends in food and drinks to watch out for in 2018.
Some of the entries on the list seem quite exotic, such as super powders and floral tastes. The list also includes new ideas such as seaweed tacos, functional mushrooms and a whole new kind of sparkling beverages.
The list was compiled by the retailer’s global experts and buyers, combining their experience in customer likes and new product sourcing.
Flowers and floral tastes have been a part of haute cuisine and traditional dishes for a long time. Whole Foods predict that 2018 is the year these flavours go mainstream. Anything goes, from whole flowers in dishes and salads to infused tinctures and bitters for cocktails. The tastes you can expect are fresh, aromatic and subtly sweet.
Examples of floral flavours that will pop up everywhere next year are lavender lattes and roses in pretty much everything. Elderflower is also becoming more and more popular with mixologists, due to its herby taste, while hibiscus tea and it’s vibrant pink colour remains popular as a hot or ice tea.
Another heavy-hitting trend for next year are powders. Easy to mix into smoothies, lattes, baked goods and pretty anything else, it’s no surprise customers have taken to them so much.
Cacao, matcha and maca root are an excellent way to get an energy boost without drinking coffee and more and more people are converting. Ground kale and spirulina are staples for smoothie-lovers as, in addition to health benefits, they also give smoothies an Instagram-ready vibrant green colour. Turmeric, a classic in Ayurvedic medicine, is also on the rise. And, as a small surprise, protein powders are making their way out of the bodybuilding circles with ingredients like collagen for a nice boost towards healthier skin and hair.
- Functional mushrooms
Including mushrooms such as reishi, chaga, lion’s mane and cordyceps, this is another emerging category. Usually used as dietary supplements, functional mushrooms are popping up in teas, smoothies, and coffees.
They have rich, earthy taste notes, which pair well with cocoa, chocolate and coffee and are excellent for soups. Expectedly, the beauty industry has also found uses for functional mushrooms, so expect to see soaps and body and hair care products containing them as well.
- Middle Eastern flavours
The Middle Eastern cuisine has been present on the scene for a very long time. According to Whole Foods, 2018 marks its entry into the mainstream. Falafel, pita, and hummus have long since been embraced by pretty much everyone and according to the report, consumers are ready to explore. Expect to see more traditional dishes, with flavours from Persian, Moroccan, Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli cuisine dominating the field.
Some spices like harissa, cardamom, and za’atar are showing up in more dishes. Other ingredients to watch out for are tahini, tomato jam, dried fruits, pomegranates, eggplants, parsley, and mint.
- Clear labels
Not necessarily a food trend, Whole Foods predicts a change in how food is labeled. According to the report, customers are more interested in the origins and journey of their food. Clearly labeled GMO foods are the first thing that comes to mind. Other details shoppers might expect include animal welfare standards, responsible and sustainable production as well as Fair Trade certification.
The first goal of customers for greater transparency is FDA’s deadline for nutrition labeling. However, this might be just the first step. Expect to see consumers push for new developments in product labeling.
- Tech plant-based diets
The tech industry’s leading force is innovation and now it is being brought into the food world. Plant-based diets are only gaining in popularity, so it’s only expected for the tech world to take notice. By manipulating plant-based ingredients, researchers have been able to create foods such as bleeding vegan burgers and tuna entirely made from tomatoes.
Another example is milk produced from pili nuts, bananas, macadamia nuts, peas and pecans. Novelties in manufacturing have allowed for vegan treats such as dairy-free frosting, brownies, and ice-cream. And the taste is getting better and better, so good in fact, that soon, non-vegans won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Popped and puffed snacks
A few years ago few people will have heard of jicama, parsnip or Brussels sprout crisps. Now, thanks to advances in production techniques, these upgrades to classic potato crisps will dominate the snack game. Crunchy snacks are always popular, but with new manufacturing technologies, they will become healthy too. For example, new extrusion methods have allowed for snacks such as popped cassava chips, seaweed fava chips and puffed rice clusters to make their way to the masses. Expect to see crunchy and healthy bites to become a snacking staple.
- A different type of tacos
Tacos are another longtime favourite getting a makeover in the following years. The taco craze is already in full swing, from simple street food to fancy variations offered by high-class restaurants. The tortilla is no longer the only vessel, and you can find tacos in every flavour combination, from savoury to sweet.
An example of how tacos will evolve are seaweed shells instead of the classic tortilla with poke filling. On the other end of the spectrum, expect total dedication to traditional tacos, with elements such as authentic barbacoa and heirloom corn tortillas.
- Root to stem
Reducing food waste is one of the hottest and most beneficial trends in the food game. Chefs are working on inventing recipes that use up the entire vegetable, akin to nose-to-tail butchery. This includes parts such as stems and leaves that are not eaten commonly. Pickled watermelon rinds, broccoli-stem slaw, and beet-green pesto are just some examples resulting from this philosophy. Expect this trend to uncover a whole new dimension to your favourite ingredients.
- A new generation of sparkling drinks
Non-alcoholic sparkling drinks are an ever-expanding category, always vying for consumer’s attention. The new generation are far from the widely known, sugar-heavy beverages. Sparkling waters with all natural flavours such as Sap! (with maple and birch) and Stumptown (a fizzy cold brew) are stirring up the market.
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