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AUSTIN, Texas — Natural and organic grocer Whole Foods Market’s global buyers and industry experts have made their picks for the top product trends to watch in the New Year.
Japanese food, creative condiments, and mindful meal prep among the 2017 trends predicted by the executives responsible for spotting trends for the retailer’s more than 465 stores and sourcing items across Whole Foods’ cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments. Together, these buyers boast more than a century of collective experience.
Their predictions for the top trends of 2017 include:
The year’s hottest picks go beyond the fresh-pressed-juice craze, having roots in alternative medicine and global traditions, as well as drawing on beneficial botanicals and other ingredients such as kava, turmeric, adaptogenic herbs, medicinal mushrooms and apple cider vinegar.
Products From Byproducts
Food producers are finding more ways to give new life to byproducts, whether they’re leftover whey from strained Greek yogurt or spent grains from beer. For instance, Sir Kensington’s is adding leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas to vegan mayonnaise, while Eco-Olea is using water from its olive oil production as a base for a line of household cleaners.
While coconut oil and coconut water have been popular for several years now, coconut flour tortillas, sugar aminos and more are new and on the rise. Coconut sap is turned into coconut sugar as an alternative to refined sweeteners; coconut oil is used in a growing list of natural beauty products; and the white flesh of the coconut is now present in flours, tortillas, chips, ice creams, butters, and other products.
Japanese Food Beyond Sushi
Condiments such as ponzu, miso, mirin, sesame oil and plum vinegar; seaweed-based products such as dried kelp, wakame and nori; and Japanese-style pickles are among the Japanese products beyond sushi that are gaining in popularity. The trend also will impact breakfast and dessert, with shoppers experimenting with savory breakfast bowl combinations and a growing number of mocha flavors such as green tea and matcha, black sesame, and pickled plum.
Traditional global recipes and brand-new ingredients alike are taking center stage in the condiment category, including black sesame tahini, habanero jam, black garlic puree, beet salsa, piri piri sauce, and Mexican hot chocolate spreads.
Pasta today has less influence from Italy and more from popular plant-based and clean-eating movements. Alternative-grain noodles made from quinoa, lentils and chickpeas are becoming favorites, while grain-free options such as spiralized veggies and kelp noodles also are on the rise. Still, fresh-milled and seasonal pastas are experiencing their own rise in popularity, showing that pasta, overall, has something to offer everyone.
Purple foods such as varieties of cauliflower, asparagus, sweet potatoes and corn; elderberries; and acai are popping up everywhere, with the color often indicating nutrient density and antioxidants.
Instead of following strict vegan, Paleo, gluten-free and other special diets that have gone mainstream, consumers will embrace healthy eating that’s less rigid, making conscious choices about what, when and how much to eat. Examples include eating vegan before 6 p.m., eating Paleo five days a week, or eating gluten-free whenever possible.
Mindful Meal Prep
People aren’t asking themselves just what they’d like to eat, but also how meals can stretch their dollar, reduce food waste, save time and be healthier. Trends to watch include the “make some/buy some” approach, like using pre-cooked ingredients from the hot bar to jumpstart dinner, or preparing a main dish from scratch and using frozen or store-bought ingredients as sides.