Whole Foods Market predicts 2020 trends

29 Oct 2019

Whole Foods Market has revealed what it believes are the most anticipated and innovative food trends for 2020 in the retailer’s fifth annual trends predictions announcement.

Regenerative agriculture, West African foods, meat-plant blends and new varieties of flour are among the food influences and movements expected to take off in the next year.

Whole Foods Market predicts 2020 trends

Each year, more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members including local foragers, regional and global buyers and culinary experts thoughtfully compile the report based on decades of experience and expertise in product sourcing, studying consumer preferences and participating in food and wellness industry exhibitions worldwide.

While the retailer’s 2019 forecasted trends, including a rise in hemp-infused and topical CBD products, faux meat snacks and eco-conscious packaging, show no signs of slowing down, the 2020 trends represent a new crop of flavours and products for consumers to watch out for both in and outside the aisles of their local grocery stores.



Whole Foods Market’s top 10 food trend predictions for 2020:



Regenerative Agriculture

Farmers, producers, academics, government agencies, retailers and more are taking a closer look at how to use land and animal management practices to improve soil health and sequester carbon. While the term “regenerative agriculture” can have many definitions, in general it describes farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil, improve biodiversity and increase carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits, such as positively impacting climate change. You can help by seeking out brands that support regenerative practices.



Flour Power

As seasoned and amateur bakers alike look to scratch a creative itch in the kitchen, an array of interesting flours are entering the market making baking more inclusive and adventurous. Consumers on the baking bandwagon are seeking out ingredients used in traditional dishes, like teff flour used for Ethiopian injera. 2020 will bring more interesting fruit and vegetable flours (like banana!) into home pantries, with products like cauliflower flour in bulk and baking aisles, rather than already baked into crusts and snack products. Consumer packaged goods are getting in on the trend by replacing traditional alternative flours with tigernut flour in chips and snack foods, and tasty pastries made with seed flour blends. As consumers look for more ways to boost their bake, “super” flours delivering protein and fibre join the trend. Let the adventures in baking begin!



Foods from West Africa

From indigenous superfoods to rich, earthy dishes, traditional West African flavours are popping up everywhere in food and in beverage. The trio of tomatoes, onions and chili peppers form a base for many West African dishes, and peanuts, ginger and lemongrass are all common additions. The 16 nations within West Africa share similar foods, but each have their own specialties based on subtle influences from the Middle East and Western Europe. Brands are looking to West Africa for its superfoods too like moringa and tamarind, and lesser known cereal grains sorghum, fonio, teff and millet. Chefs like Pierre Thiam are embracing the region too. His new Harlem restaurant, Teranga, is an ode to African culture through food.



Out-of-the-Box, Into-the-Fridge Snacking

Life isn’t slowing down, but snack options are more than keeping up. The keyword is “fresh” in this new generation of grabbing and going—gone are the days when the only options were granola bars and mini pretzel bags. The refrigerated section is filling up with the kind of wholesome, fresh snacks typically prepared and portioned in advance at home: hard-boiled eggs with savoury toppings, pickled vegetables, drinkable soups and mini dips and dippers of all kinds, all perfectly portioned and in convenient single-serve packaging. Even nutrition bars have made their way from the shelves to the chiller, thanks to the addition of fresh fruits and vegetables. These snacking innovations mean ingredients lists are shrinking and there’s a lot less guesswork in picking up a quick snack you can feel better about.



Plant-Based, Beyond Soy

Tofu scrambles may always have a place at the vegan breakfast table, but in 2020 the trendiest brands are slowing down on soy, which has traditionally dominated the plant-based protein space. 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!



Everything Butters and Spreads

Has (insert nut, seed, snack) been made into a butter yet? It’s likely to happen in 2020. Think seed butters beyond tahini – like watermelon seed butter – and seasonal products like pumpkin butter year-round. Nut butters beyond cashew, almond, and peanut (hello, macadamia) and even chickpea butters (no, it’s not a new name for hummus). Look for creamy vegan spreads perfect for toast, crackers, bagels, and celery sticks that get their full flavours from trending superfoods like pili. 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.



Rethinking the Kids’ Menu

Are the days of picky eaters numbered? Judging from the number of kids’ cooking and baking competitions on TV, kids are kitchen-savvier than ever. By 2026, 80% of millennials will have children, and many parents are introducing their kids to more adventurous foods — with great results. (Seeing kids chowing down alongside parents at the Whole Foods Market sushi bar is a common sight.) 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. Think non-breaded salmon fish sticks. Foods that are fermented, spiced or rich in umami flavours. Colourful pastas in fun shapes made from alternative flours. Maybe it’s time adults start taking some cues from the kids’ menu.



Not-So-Simple Sugars

Sure, there’s sugar. But for those seeking sweetness outside of the usual suspects like sugar, stevia, honey and maple syrup, there’s lots more to choose from for your cooking, baking and tea- or coffee-stirring needs. Syrupy reductions from fruit sources like monk fruit, pomegranates, coconut and dates are one way to add concentrated, unique flavours into recipes for desserts, meat glazes and marinades. Sweet syrups made from starches like sorghum and sweet potato can be compared to the deep flavours 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.



Meat-Plant Blends

Butchers and meat brands won’t be left out of the “plant-based” craze in 2020, but they’re not going vegetarian. Chefs across the country have been on board with the trend for years through James Beard Foundation’s The Blended Burger Project, a movement that strives to make the iconic burger “better for customers and for the planet” by blending in at least 25% fresh mushrooms. For the health-conscious at-home chef, adding plant-based ingredients to meatballs and burgers has an added bonus – it’s budget-friendly! 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 (check out Applegate’s website for nutritional comparison information). 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.



Zero-Proof Drinks

With so many consumers seeking out alternatives to alcohol, unique non-alcoholic options are popping up everywhere, from menus at the world’s most acclaimed bars to specialty stores. Many of these beverages seek to re-create classic cocktail flavours 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. 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 aperitifs, and you can be sure guests avoiding the bar cart will never get bored.

Related tags

Market News Research

Related news

Chickpea revolution? Companies looking to innovate could face higher prices as global shortage hits

Chickpea revolution? Companies looking to innovate could face higher prices as global shortage hits

5 Aug 2022

From coffee to ice cream, recent product launches demonstrate how companies are betting on chickpea in the plant-based revolution… but could a global shortage scupper innovation?

Read more 
Swedish food packaging company Tetra Pak exits Russia amid mounting sanction-led supply chain pressures

Swedish food packaging company Tetra Pak exits Russia amid mounting sanction-led supply chain pressures

4 Aug 2022

Tetra Pak has become the latest big company to exit its remaining operations in Russia as the country faces increasing shortages under ongoing sanctions.

Read more 
European soft drinks industry celebrates sugar reduction milestones as the ‘war on sugar’ continues

European soft drinks industry celebrates sugar reduction milestones as the ‘war on sugar’ continues

3 Aug 2022

The European soft drinks sector has achieved a 17.7% reduction in average added sugars since 2015, says its industry association, UNESDA. However, experts warn that the “war on sugar” will intensify from both consumers and governments in the next few y...

Read more 
Diageo unveils plans for €200 million carbon-neutral brewery in Ireland

Diageo unveils plans for €200 million carbon-neutral brewery in Ireland

1 Aug 2022

Diageo has unveiled plans for a €200 million carbon-neutral lager and ales brewery in Ireland – the country’s first.

Read more 
Mexican packaged food companies to feel profit squeeze as inflation continues

Mexican packaged food companies to feel profit squeeze as inflation continues

29 Jul 2022

Mexican packaged food companies are set to feel bigger profitability pressures over the next year as commodities price inflation and slowed growth continues, said credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings.

Read more 
Gut health is the biggest growth area for US personalised nutrition brands

Gut health is the biggest growth area for US personalised nutrition brands

28 Jul 2022

Gut health will be a key growth area for personalised nutrition brands in the US throughout 2023, fuelled by the development of more user-friendly microbiome testing kits and the importance of gut health for US consumers, according to the Nutrition Bus...

Read more 
How (and why) should food brands leverage social media?

How (and why) should food brands leverage social media?

27 Jul 2022

Social media is a powerful and far-reaching tool which allows brands to get closer than ever before to their consumers. To reap its value, brands should closely monitor consumer attitudes on social media and proactively engage with them.

Read more 
Canada rolls out new front-of-pack ‘magnifying glass’ label for high salt, sugar and fat foods

Canada rolls out new front-of-pack ‘magnifying glass’ label for high salt, sugar and fat foods

26 Jul 2022

Canadian authorities have launched a new front-of-package nutrition label designed to help shoppers make more informed product selections as they purchase groceries by highlighting foods high in specific ‘unhealthy’ nutrients.

Read more 
Shifting trends: Analysing the impact of high inflation in India

Shifting trends: Analysing the impact of high inflation in India

25 Jul 2022

Despite food and beverage categories in India feeling the pinch of increasing inflation, the overall outlook remains upbeat as governmental support steps in and evolving consumer purchasing patterns shape the sector.

Read more 
A switch to alternative proteins could be cheapest and highest impact solution to climate crisis – report

A switch to alternative proteins could be cheapest and highest impact solution to climate crisis – report

22 Jul 2022

Shifting to alternative proteins could be the “most capital-efficient and high-impact” solution to today’s climate crisis, according to a new report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which suggests more than 30% of consumers are willing to fully swap...

Read more