New flavors, textures and transparency requirements will shape 2018 food trends

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

New flavors, textures and transparency requirements will shape 2018
Early predictions from Whole Foods Market about what will be hot suggests 2018 will be a year of contradictions with consumers balancing health and indulgence, while at the same time pursuing both bold and subtle new flavors.

Flavors flit from subtle floral to boldly inspired Middle Eastern and Latin American

Lavender, hibiscus and elderflower could finally come into their own in 2018 after years of manufacturers tentatively testing the waters by adding the flavors to mints, flavored water, juices and desserts, according to Whole Foods Market experts. The petals also will be part of the picture as more foodservice players incorporate flowers into their finished dishes, they suggest. The gentle flavors will be balanced by sweet and heat from the Middle East, including harissa, cardamom and za’atar appearing on more menus. At the same time, more familiar Latin flavors take on new forms as tacos go from a Tuesday night staple to a form that can be eaten anytime and anywhere. A key part of this shift is replacing the traditional tortilla with other wrappers, such as seaweed and grain-free blends.

Powerful powders pique consumer interest

Dueling consumer desire for health and convenience is driving a revolution of powdered superfoods that can easily be added to baked goods, smoothies, soups and even lattes, according to Whole Foods Market soothsayers. They see powdered matcha, maca root and cacao warming mugs this winter and turmeric, spirulina and mixed greens adding a punch of color to the during early months of the year. To keep up, old-timers like protein powders will step up their game with new add-ins such as collagen for a beauty-from-within boost.

The magic of mushrooms is unleashed

Button and portabello mushrooms will need to make room for new varieties, including reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane, which are finding their way into more products, such as purely elizabeth’s granola bars​, Rebble Reishi beverages, coffees and even scoopable tubs that give consumers the ability to customize any dish they want.

Transparency expectations will tighten

The deadline for complying with Whole Foods Market’s GMO labeling is upon us in September 2018 and with it comes other more stringent labeling changes that will take transparency to the next level. These include requiring all canned tuna sold in Whole Foods Market to be caught from sustainable one-by-one methods and foodservice dishes to have labeled calorie information. The retailer expects consumers and brands to build on these shifts with even more ‘product intel’​ that tells the story of how food is made.

Forget fried and baked, puffed is popular

Remember when baked not fried was all the rage? Well, now it is puffed, popped, dried and crisped, according to Whole Foods Market’s predictions. It explains new extrusion methods have made it possible for manufacturers to embrace fun shapes and better-for-you ingredients while still providing a crunchy snack.

Food waste reduction leads to innovative recipes

Inspired by the food waste reduction movement, manufacturers are looking to use all parts of produce – including those that previously would have been composted. For example, watermelon rinds are being pickled, seeds and stems are being blended alongside the flesh of fruits and veggies in sipping soups and the tough stems of broccoli are being chopped and shredded into slaw.

Manufacturers add more sparkle to beverages

Water, cold brew coffee, tree sap and mocktails all are being carbonated to create a multidimensional flavor sensation that consumers can’t seem to get enough of, Whole Foods Market predicts. This builds on a larger trend of Millennials and others turning away from alcohol​ in favor of beverages that give them more control.

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