December 8, 2023

Whole Foods Market, a U.S.-based multinational supermarket chain, has released its food trends forecast for 2024, predicting the rise in popularity of caffeine with added benefits, use of cacao pulp, water stewardship, and complex heat from peppers, among others.

The retailer unveiled its top 10 food trends for 2024 in its ninth annual trends prediction report released last month.

Last year, many of the grocer’s predictions were accurate and translated on shelf, most notably a surge in climate claims on product packaging, the continued popularity of avocado oil, and the rise of premium pet food.

The 10 major food trends Whole Foods forecasts will emerge in 2024 are the following:

Plant-based. The retail chain is seeing a rise in minimalistic vegan products with shortened ingredient lists, such as veggie burgers and other meat-based alternatives made of mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh, and legumes instead of lab-grown proteins and chemicals. Even plant-based milk alternatives are participating, with some brands simplifying labels to just two ingredients;

Whole cacao. Cacao pulp – a by-product of cacao that’s typically discarded – is now being used to make jellies and jams. Cacao fruit powders are also presenting opportunities for brands looking for a new sugar alternative without compromising on sweet, ambrosial flavor, according to Whole Foods;

Buckwheat. Gaining popularity as a cover crop to support soil health, buckwheat is a superfood seed containing  protein, carbs, and fiber. It is also naturally gluten-free. Already seen in the form of soba noodles, buckwheat is expected to be in everything from plant-based milk alternatives to crackers and granola;

Fancy faux fish. According to Whole Foods, some plant-based seafood brands are bringing the flavor and texture needed to rival real fish. Expect to see carrots in place of lox, trumpet mushrooms for scallops, and the root vegetable konjac used in sushi rolls and poke bowls;

Water stewardship. With the push to conserve water, new water brands are heeding the call by using fruit byproducts that would otherwise be discarded. Meanwhile, lifestyle brands are also pushing water-conscious products like dry shampoos, shampoo bars and laundry detergent sheets;

Complex heat. The year 2024 will see increased hankering for complex heat, with sales of global peppers taking off. Expect to start seeing specialty varieties like Scorpion Peppers, Guajillo or Hungarian Goathorn Peppers on shelves, offered fresh, whole, ground or pickled. Botana sauces and chili oils are also finding their way into condiment aisles. Pepper-infused drinks are going beyond kombuchas, cold-pressed juices and smoothies, with ready-to-drink beverages like canned tepache. Even Tajín is expanding from candies and cocktails to spicing up grocery store sushi, desserts and more;

New noodles. Brands are stepping up their game by creating more gourmet options to rival classic instant ramen, offering noodles without certain preservatives and added MSG;

Little luxuries. TikTok creators are responsible for many food trends, including “Little Treat Culture,” the practice of indulging in a small, inexpensive item for oneself. Brands are getting in on the trend by producing individual serving packages that add joy without breaking a budget;

Women’s health. Anticipate more product releases that support periods, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause and even sleep. Food innovators are introducing specially formulated bars and snacks for cycle health, like menopause energy bars; and

A better boost.  Finally, Whole Foods foresees new ways to get the most out of caffeine. The new year will see offerings of new coffee and energy drinks that combine the boost of caffeine with benefits such as the addition of mushrooms, probiotics, and more. – Press release