Back to Specialty Food News

Whole Foods Forecasts 2024 Trends

Caffeine with added benefits, plant-based basics, complex heat from global peppers, and water conservation are all among the top 10 food trends for 2024 unveiled by Whole Foods Market’s Trends Council, Tuesday.

Each year, the collective of more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members, compiles trend predictions based on experience and expertise in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences, as well as in-depth workshopping with emerging and existing brands.

“Our annual food trends predictions list is a way for us to pull back the curtain for customers and share insight into what our buyers and culinary experts are keeping on their radar for the upcoming year,” said Cathy Strange, ambassador of food culture for Whole Foods Market and member of the Trends Council, in a statement. “From specific product ingredients and flavor trends, to growing movements in the food industry, we can’t wait to see these trends gain momentum in the year ahead.”

Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trend predictions for 2024:

Put the “Plant” Back in “Plant-Based”

The original go-tos of plant-based cuisine are making a comeback, putting the “veggie” back in veggie burgers and shrinking labels across the plant-based category. New and emerging protein-forward products with mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh and legumes in place of complex meat alternatives are also entering the market. Even plant-based milk alternatives are participating, with some brands simplifying labels to just two ingredients.

Products that tie into the trend include Actual Veggies Green Burger, Meati Carne Asada Steaks, Smallhold Organic Mushrooms Blue Oyster and Lion’s Mane, Abbot’s Butcher Plant-Based Chopped Chick’n, Atlantic Sea Farms Basil Pesto Sea Veggie Burger (launching in November), Three Trees Organic Original Unsweetened Almondmilk.

Use the Whole Cacao

Utilizing by-products like cacao pulp has been practiced in other countries for centuries, and now brands like Blue Stripes are spotlighting the whole cacao. At Earth University in Costa Rica, where student researchers are tackling some of the biggest systemic environmental issues, the typically discarded cacao pulp is being made into jellies and jams. The emergence of cacao fruit powders in 2023 also presents an opportunity for brands seeking a new sugar alternative without compromising on flavor.

Blue Stripes Urban Cacao Water, Trail Mixes, Granola, Dried Cacao Fruits Chocolate Bars and Chocolate Covered Cacao Beans; and Knoops Cacao Husk Tea all tie into the trend.

Buckle Up for Buckwheat

Gaining popularity as a naturally gluten-free cover crop to support soil health, buckwheat is a superfood seed containing protein, carbs, and fiber.

Tying into the trend are Maine Crisp Buckwheat Crackers Savory Fig & Thyme, Lil Bucks Clusterbucks Buckwheat Granola Bites Chocolate Sea Salt, Lotus Foods Buckwheat & Brown Rice Soba Noodles, Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix, Hakubaku Organic Soba Noodles, and BAM Buckwheat Milk.

Fancy Faux Fish

With tinned fish and caviar taking off earlier this year, it has since taken hold on the vegan and vegetarian side. Some plant-based seafood brands are bringing the flavor and texture needed to rival the real thing, leveraging carrots in place of lox, trumpet mushrooms for scallops, and the root vegetable konjac mimicking sushi-grade seafood.

Plant-Based Spicy Tuna Roll and Plant-Based Spicy Sno’ Crab Roll at Whole Foods Market sushi venues, Konscious Plant-Based California Roll and Plant-Based Tuna Poke Bowl, Good Catch Plant-Based New England Style Crab Cakes, TMRW Ocean Cakes, Save da Sea Plant-Based Smoked Salmon and Tuna Salad, and Seed to Surf Plant-Based Tinned Seafood tie into the trend.

Clean & Conserve: Water Stewardship

New brands use water from fruit by-products, which would otherwise be discarded. With the growing trend of regenerative agriculture, a Regenerative Organic Certification also requires soil health initiatives that ultimately conserve water.

Try the Trend: Lundberg Family Farms Regenerative Organic Certified Basmati Rice, SIMPLi Regenerative Organic Certified Gigante Beans, Garcia de la Cruz Organic Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Responsibly Farmed Sequoia Kumamoto, Great White and Moondancer Oysters, and Gotham Greens Greenhouse Crunch are examples of the trend.

Complex Heat

Specialty varieties of peppers like Scorpion Peppers, Guajillo, or Hungarian Goathorn Peppers are found fresh, whole, ground or pickled, and a new wave of botana sauces and chili oils are popping up in condiment aisles nationwide.

Among the brands tying into the trend are Nando’s Peri-Perii XX Hot Sauce, Mama Lil’s Kick Butt Peppers Pickled Hot Hungarian ‘Goathorn’ Peppers in oil, Somos Mexican Chili Crisp with Nuts & Seeds, Fly By Jing Sichuan Gold, Mina Spicy Harissa, De La Calle Mango Chili Picante Tepache, FILLO’S Bean Salsa Habanero Walking Tamales, Silva Sausage Louisiana Hot Link and Linguiça Portuguese Sausage, Goodles Down the Hatch Macaroni & Cheese, Divina Chopped Calabrian Peppers.

Noodle News

Brands are creating more gourmet noodle and ramen options to rival the classics without certain preservatives and added MSG. As people seek simple and instant meals, noodles bring the ease and comfort of a warm bowl with quality ingredients and tantalizing flavors.

Try the trend with Momofuku Tingly Chili Wavy Noodles and Spicy Soy Noodle, Immi Black Garlic ‘Chicken’ Ramen, Lotus Foods Spicy Kimchi Rice Ramen Noodle Soup, Sun Noodles 1955 Miso Ramen, Omsom Saucy Noodles Chili Sesame and Soy Garlic, Hakubaku Ramen, Soba and Udon Noodles, A-SHA Universtar Noodle with Galaxy Spicy Sauce, and Lazy Food Co. Italian Pasta Meals.

Little Luxuries

TikTok creators have brought “Little Treat Culture” into the zeitgeist. Brands are getting in on the trend by considering both cost and format, like individual serving packages that add joy without breaking a budget, and outlets like The Kitchn regularly dish out lists of “Little Luxuries” found for $10 or less.

Examples include Petit Pot Crème Brûlée and Strawberry Cheesecake, Fishwife Tinned Seafood Co. Sardines with Preserved Lemon and Sardines with Hot Peppers, Whole Foods Market’s Self-Serve Macarons, 365 brand Blueberry Lavender Kombucha, Mayawell Prebiotic Beverage Sparkling Pineapple Turmeric, Funky Mello Marshmallow Cremes, and Kinship Milk Tea.

Women’s Health: from Taboo to Top of Mind

Brands are making products to support periods, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, and even sleep that address life stages and symptoms previously swept under the rug. Food innovators are introducing specially formulated bars and snacks for cycle health, like menopause energy bars, at industry trade shows and conferences.

Wile Perimenopause Support Supplement, MaryRuth’s 3-in-1 Daily Vaginal Support Probiotic, Gaia Herbs Women’s Libido, Gaia Herbs Nighttime Comfort for Menopause, New Chapter 35+ Prenatal, Ritual Postnatal Multivitamin, Herbal Cup’s Ayurvedic Balanced Women’s Tea, and Traditional Medicinals Mother’s Milk Lactation Tea are some examples.

A Better Boost

Combining a boost with benefits has never been easier, thanks to new coffee and energy drinks with added mushrooms, probiotics, and more. There’s never been a better time to search the “clean caffeine” space for the next obsession.

Tying into the trend is Four Sigmatic Think Organic Coffee with Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Halfday Prebiotic Green Tea with Honey and Ginseng, GORGIE Energy Drink Sparkling Electric Berry and Peachy Keen, Bulletproof Enhanced Coffee Pods, NuRange Cold Brew with Benefits, and Ardor Mexican Lime Energy Sparkling Water.

Related: SFA's Trendspotters Prognosticate 2024 Trends; Fresh Thyme Market Predicts 2024 Trends