A team of product experts dubbed the trends council at Whole Foods Market compiled their top 10 predictions for food trends to keep an eye out for in 2022.
The group of over 50 regional and global buyers, local foragers and culinary experts found functional beverages, yuzu products and reducetarianism to be among the top food influences. They analyzed product sourcing and consumer preferences to make their list. Check out the full breakdown of buzzworthy items expected to rise in popularity in the next year.
In 2013, Whole Foods opened a store in Brooklyn with a greenhouse on the roof to create sustainably grown fresh herbs and salad greens using sunlight and 100% renewable electricity. Indoor farming innovation has continued to trend upward since with everything from hydroponics and aquaponics. Whole Foods predicts more producers will use new, boundary-pushing ways to grow hyper-local crops and maximize efficiency.
The lesser-known citrus grown in Japan, Korea and China is having a moment in the culinary world. The tangerine-sized fruit is tart and sour with the flavor popping up more in vinaigrettes, hard seltzers, mayos and more. "In the restaurant scene, chefs are using its lime-lemon-grapefruit flavor to accent their soups, veggies, noodles and fish," Whole Foods explained. "Get ready to see this fruit shine in 2022 -- both on and off the grocery aisles."
Reducetarianism is a concept for plant-curious eaters who may not be ready to give up all animal products. The idea is to reduce consumption of meat, dairy and eggs without cutting them out completely and encouraging premium grass-fed meat and pasture-raised eggs when those options are on the table.
Hype for Hibiscus
When it comes to teas, hibiscus has a long history with Whole Foods customers who historically kept it in the rotation for its vitamin C content. "Now, producers are harnessing its sweet, tart flavor in the form of fruit spreads, yogurts and beyond. Of course, beverage makers are keeping up, leaning on hibiscus to craft delicious drinks that adopt its signature hot-pink hue."
A new lineup of dialed-down spirits saw record growth in Whole Foods this past year.
"With millennials and Gen Z-ers dabbling in 'drysolation' during the pandemic, we don’t see the sober-curious mindset going away anytime soon," the brand said. The drinks provide the taste and sophistication of cocktails without the buzz and Whole Foods offers new products to create even more elegant mocktail options.
Grains with a purpose
"Grocery grains are refocusing on the environment in 2022. We’re talking grains grown via agriculture practices and farming processes that help address soil health," the company said. "Kernza – a perennial grain developed by The Land Institute with a sweet, nutty flavor and long roots – helps with nutrient cycling and overall soil ecology. Find it in cereals and even beer."
Sunflower seeds are more than fuel for baseball sluggers. The team has found the simple ingredient stepping out of the stadium and into into crackers, ice creams and even non-dairy cheeses to add protein and unsaturated fats. "These mighty little seeds are transforming the 21st century snack game. Parents, take note -- many sunflower seed–based products are made without nuts, which means allergy-friendly school snacks (just make sure to always check the label)."
The leaves traditionally used as an herbal remedy in India, Africa and beyond have lots of nutrients, and these fast-growing, drought-resistant trees have been used as a source of food to fight malnutrition in certain parts of the world. "Gaining steam in the U.S. as matcha’s latest alternative, it can be found in powder form and added to make magic in smoothies, sauces and baked goods," Whole Foods found. "It’s also showing up in unexpected products like frozen desserts, protein bars and packaged grain blends."
More people are seeking sparkling drinks that "not only taste great but also offer ingredients that balance out the sweetness." Sodas with probiotics and fizzy tonics with added prebiotics or other botanicals come in fruity flavors with unconventional ingredients to give customers more from their bubbly beverages.
"Turmeric, aka 'the golden spice,' has been used for centuries in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, and has become popular in the U.S. as a dietary supplement," the retailer stated in the list. "While golden milk lattes and turmeric supplements are nothing new, the spice is taking root as an ingredient in packaged foods like cereals, sauerkrauts and even plant-based ice cream sandwiches. People want to have their turmeric and eat it too."
"Last year, we saw tremendous pandemic-related shifts in grocery buying habits as the world adjusted to spending more time at home. As the food industry slowly adjusts to a new normal, we expect to see consumers prioritize food and drink products that deliver additional benefits—like functional sodas and tonics— and products that support their sense of well-being, like urban garden greens and products grown with farming processes that help address soil health," Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, Chief Marketing Officer for Whole Foods Market said in a statement. “We look forward to watching these trends take form in grocery aisles and on our plates in 2022.”
While Whole Foods Market’s predictions for 2021—including upcycled foods, boozy kombucha and the up-leveled pantry staples—continue to evolve, the 2022 Trends represent the future of food and beverages.
Plus, for the first time this year, Whole Foods Market will offer shoppers a taste of this list with a Trends Discovery Box, curated with an assortment of 10 products that represent this forecast. The boxes, available for $30, go on sale Oct. 18, and are available for a limited time only online.