Whole Foods reveals top 10 food trends for 2021

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Whole Foods Market
Photo: Whole Foods Market

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Heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Whole Foods Market has unveiled its top 10 food trends for 2021, which include revitalized “epic” breakfast meals and culinary-inspired baby food, to growing consumer adoption of fringe cooking oils and food brands highlighting the versatility of chickpeas.

Each year, the Whole Foods Trends Council comprising more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including local foragers, regional and global buyers and culinary experts, compile trend predictions based on decades of experience and expertise in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences, and being on the frontlines with emerging and existing brands.

“Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception,”​ said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Whole Foods Market.

“There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020. For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID.”

See how to try each emerging food trend HERE​. 

1. ‘Well-being is served’

As the lines blur between the supplement and grocery aisles, Whole Foods anticipates the continued  rise of superfoods, probiotics, broths, and sauerkrauts.

“Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system. For obvious reasons, people want this pronto."

 2. ‘Epic breakfast every day’

“With more people working from home, the most important meal is getting the attention it deserves, not just on weekends, but every day,”​ noted the retailer.

There’s a whole new lineup of innovative products tailored to people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Think pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites and even “eggs” made from mung beans (i.e. Just Egg Folded plant-based eggs​).

3. ‘Basics on fire’

With more time in the kitchen, home chefs are looking for hot, new takes on pantry staples, giving rise to new takes on shelf-stable pasta, sauces, and spices.

“Get ready for reimagined classics like hearts of palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and 'meaty' vegan soup,”​ predicts Whole Foods.

4. ‘Coffee beyond the mug’

Consumers are getting their coffee fix in more ways including in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze, and coffee yogurt.

5. ‘Baby food, all grown up’

Baby food is getting a culinary makeover with products featuring a wide range of healthy ingredients from purple carrots to omega-3-rich flaxeeds.

“Thanks to some inspired culinary innovation, parents have never had a wider or richer range of ingredients to choose from,”​ said Whole Foods.

6. Upcycled foods

Brands and food manufacturers are continuing to find new ways to upycle ingredients that would’ve previously gone to waste, observed Whole Foods.

“We’re seeing a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods, made from ingredients that would have otherwise been food waste, help to maximize the energy used to produce, transport and prepare that ingredient.”

7. ‘Oil change’

According to Whole Foods, consumers are branching out from the ubiquitous olive oil and trying a new varieties of  cooking oils such as walnut oil, pumpkin seed oil, and sunflower seed oil.

8. ‘Boozed-up booch’

While hard seltzer burst onto the scene in 2018, next year, alcoholic kombuchas will be the next big trend in the beverage aisle, said Whole Foods.

“Hard kombucha checks all the boxes: It’s gluten-free, it’s super bubbly and can be filled with live probiotic cultures.”

9. ‘The mighty chickpea’

“The time has come to think beyond hummus and falafel, and even chickpea pasta. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower — popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and even chickpea cereal,”​ said Whole Foods.

10. ‘Fruit and veggie jerky’

Plant-based innovation has hit the jerky category with brands utilizing a variety of meat-free ingredients from mushrooms to jackfruit dried​ at the peak freshness to preserve nutrients and flavors.

"If that’s not enough, suppliers are literally spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle,"​ added Whole Foods. 

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