From fonio and tigernuts to more imaginative food for kids… Whole Foods unveils top 10 food trends for 2020

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Whole Foods Market
Picture: Whole Foods Market

Related tags Whole foods market Whole foods Food for kids

West African foods from the ancient grain fonio to tigernuts and moringa; to refrigerated protein-packed snacks; chickpea butter; and more imaginative food for kids will all gain traction in 2020 according to buyers, product developers, category managers and chefs at Whole Foods Market, which has just unveiled its annual list of 10 trends to watch in the year ahead.

On this list to watch are…

Meat-plant blends

Chefs have been on board with the ‘blended’ trend for years through James Beard Foundation’s The Blended Burger Project, says Whole Foods.

Major brands like Applegate are seeing if meat-eating consumers will swap a traditional beef burger for one with 30% plant-based ingredients, touting benefits of less fat and cholesterol when compared to USDA data for regular ground beef. And other brands are taking note, too, with products like the Lika Plus Burger made using 75% ground beef blended with 25% Lika Plus (wheat, mushroom, barley yeast and water), showing up at meat counters in Whole Foods Market’s Southwest region. Flexitarians looking to strike a tasty balance between meats and plants can expect more blended products in their future.”

Example​: Applegate’s The Great Organic Blended Burger; Lika Plus Blended Burger; Beef, quinoa, vegetable meatballs; The Blended Burger Project winning recipes

Zero-proof drinks

Look out for more unique non-alcoholic options that seek to re-create classic cocktail flavors using distilling methods typically reserved for alcohol, creating an alternative to liquor meant to be used with a mixer rather than a drink on its own, says the retailer.

“Think alt-gin for gin and tonics and botanical-infused faux spirits for a faux martini. Add to that options enjoyed straight from the bottle or can, like hops-infused sparkling waters and zero-proof apertifs.”

Examples​: HopTea Sparkling Teas: The Really Hoppy One made with black tea, The Green Tea One made with green tea, The Calm One made with chamomile; Heineken 0.0; Athletic Brewing Company non-alcoholic brews: Run Wild non-alcoholic IPA, Upside Dawn non-alcoholic Golden Ale; Kater Wingman longneck sparkling waters

Foods from West Africa


West African flavors are popping up everywhere in food and in beverage, says Whole Foods. “Brands are looking to West Africa for its superfoods like moringa and tamarind, and lesser known cereal grains sorghum, fonio, teff and millet.”

Examples​: Kuli Kuli Organic Pure Moringa Vegetable Powder; Ginjan Organic Ginger Juice; Essie Spice Condiments, Mango Chili Medley; Yolélé Fonio

Out-of-the-box, into-the-fridge snacking

Expect to see more fresh/refrigerated snacks in 2020, says Whole Foods, from hard-boiled eggs with savory toppings, to pickled vegetables, chilled nutrition bars, drinkable soups and mini dips and dippers in single-serve packaging.  

Examples​: Peckish Fresh Protein Packs: Eggs & Maple Waffles, Eggs & Fried Rice; Nona Lim drinkable soups: Vietnamese Pho Bone Broth, Coconut Lime Chicken Bone Broth; Perfect Bar Refrigerated Protein Bars: Peanut Butter, Coconut Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter; Good Culture Organic Cottage Cheese single serving cups: Mixed Berry

Plant-based, beyond soy

While the Impossible Burger is doing pretty well with its soy-based burger, “In 2020 the trendiest brands are slowing down on soy, which has traditionally dominated the plant-based protein space​,” claims Whole Foods.

Some of the products touting ‘no soy’ in the next year will be replacing it instead with innovative blends (like grains and mung beans) to mimic the creamy textures of yogurts and other dairy products. In the supplement aisle, brands are swapping soy for mung bean, hempseed, pumpkin, avocado, watermelon seed and golden chlorella, maintaining the smooth textures in vegan protein powders and bringing a spectrum of plant-based amino acids to the table. As the plant-based movement gains traction with flexitarian eaters, brands are looking to avoid as many of the top allergens as possible, so look for plant-based prepared foods (especially meat alternatives) and traditionally soy-based condiments going soy-less.”

Examples​: Ocean’s Halo: Organic No Soy Soy-Free Sauce, Organic Soy-Free Vegan Fish Sauce; soy-free plant-based items coming to the Whole Foods Market Chef’s Case: Hearts of Palm Cakes, Smoky Vegetable Goulash, Ultra Green Vegan Spanakopita; Plant-Based Vega Protein & Energy: Classic Chocolate

Everything butters and spreads

Expect more legume/seed butters in 2020 from watermelon seed butter and pumpkin butter to macadamia nut and chickpea butter, for toast, crackers, bagels, and celery sticks, says Whole Foods.

“It helps the trend that spreads and butters are touting paleo- and keto-friendly attributes, but transparency is also a key player in this trend. Many brands are looking to either eliminate the use of palm oil or promote a Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil certification and use nuts that are grown in ways with less likelihood for environmental impact.”

Examples: FBOMB Macadamia Nut Butter squeeze pouch: Salted Chocolate; 88 Acres: Watermelon Seed Butter, Roasted Pumpkin Seed Butter; Milkadamia Butta-Bing Butta-Boom Buttery Spread: Salted, Unsalted

Rethinking the kids’ menu

serenity kids

By 2026, 80% of millennials will have children, and many parents are introducing their kids to more adventurous foods, says Whole Foods. “Food brands are taking notice for the next generation – possibly our first true “foodies” – expanding the menu beyond nostalgic foods with better-for-you ingredients and organic chicken nuggets. They’re bridging the gap from old-school basic kids’ menus and taking more sophisticated younger palates into consideration​. [Editor’s note: Want to explore this trend? Checkout our FOOD FOR KIDS summit​ in Chicago November 18-20].

“Think non-breaded salmon fish sticks. Foods that are fermented, spiced or rich in umami flavors. Colorful pastas in fun shapes made from alternative flours. Maybe it’s time adults start taking some cues from the kids’ menu.”  

Examples​: gimMe Organic Premium Roasted Seaweed: Sea Salt; Whole Foods Market olive bar; Happy Fish Responsibly Farmed Salmon fish-shaped frozen salmon patties; Whole Foods Market Limited Edition Lemon Basil Chia Shortbread Cookies; Serenity Kids 100% Wild Caught Coho Salmon puree pouch; Cerebelly Organic Pea Basil puree pouch; Whole Foods Market Goat Cheese Crumbles.

Regenerative agriculture

In 2020, expect to see more brands tout the benefits of ‘regenerative agriculture’ -  farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil, improve biodiversity and increase carbon capture, says Whole Foods.

Examples​: MegaFood Turmeric Strength for Whole Body; MegaFood B12 Energy Ginger Gummies; White Oak Pastures Grassfed Ground Beef; Zack’s Mighty Tortilla Chips; Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam; Soli Artisan Essential Oil Sacred Forest Collection: Palo Santo, Rosewood; Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc  

Flour power

cauliflower flour

Home bakers are seeking out ingredients used in traditional dishes, such as teff flour used for Ethiopian injera, says Whole Foods, which predicts growth in ‘flours’ or fruit and veggie powders (banana, cauliflower, tigernut) that deliver more protein or fiber, a sense of discovery, or functional health benefits.

Examples​: Late July Tortilla Chips made with tigernut flour; 365 Everyday Value Cauliflower Flour; 365 Everyday Value Organic Coconut Flour; Gemini Superfoods Tigernut Flour; Superseed Life Donuts: Dark Chocolate, Wild Blueberry

Not-so-simple sugars

Syrupy reductions from fruit sources like monk fruit, pomegranates, coconut and dates are one way to add concentrated, unique flavors into recipes for desserts, meat glazes and marinades​,” says Whole Foods.

Sweet syrups made from starches like sorghum and sweet potato can be compared to the deep flavors of molasses or honey, and can be used for baking and sweetening beverages. Swerve, a cup-for-cup zero-calorie non-glycemic replacement for sugar, combines erythritol with ingredients from fruit and starchy root vegetables to produce a sweetener that’s available in granular, confectioners’ and brown versions.”

Examples​: Just Pomegranate Syrup; Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweeteners; D’vash Sweet Potato Nectar; Birch Benders Monk Fruit Sweetened Pancake Syrup: Classic Maple; Swerve sweeteners

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