Food, Travel and Tech

Top 10 food trends for 2020, according to Whole Foods


As the new year approaches, Amazon's Whole Foods revealed its predictions for the top food trends to come in 2020.

Last year, Whole Foods predicted 2019 trends, including a rise in CBD products, vegan meat snacks and eco-conscious packaging. For 2020, the mega-grocer makes predictions including an increase in regenerative agriculture (a type of farming that restores degraded soil), West African foods and plant-based meat products.

More than 50 Whole Foods Market team members — including buyers, culinary experts and "local foragers" (who search for food or provisions) — created the forecast report based on products, consumer preferences and food and wellness industry exhibitions, according to the Whole Foods release.

The top 10 food predictions for 2020, according to Whole Foods, are:

Regenerative agriculture

Whole Foods defines regenerative agriculture as the "farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil, improve biodiversity and increase carbon capture to create long-lasting environmental benefits." This approach to farming, includes things like composting and crop rotation, according to organic farming non-profit Rodale Institute.

Companies like Stonyfield and Danone North America have already invested money and resources in developing and researching the impact of regenerative agriculture, according to Fast Company. And in March of 2019, General Mills announced it was dedicating resources to training, education and advancing regenerative agriculture.

"We recognize that our biggest opportunity to drive positive impact for the planet we all share lies within our own supply chain," said Jeff Harmening, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Mills, in a release.

New flours

Alternative flours have become more mainstream as more people try trendy diets that reject wheat flour like going gluten free or paleo, and as consumers try to "boost their bake" with more protein and fiber, according to Whole Foods. As a result, Whole Foods predicts a mix of new flours will hit the market in 2020.

There will be "more interesting fruit and vegetable flours (like banana!) ... with products like cauliflower flour in bulk and baking aisles, rather than already baked into crusts and snack products," the grocer said in the release.

Whole foods also predicts more packaged goods, like chips and snack foods, will be made with alternative flours like Tigernut (a gluten-free root vegetable) and seed flour.

Foods from West Africa

"[T]raditional West African flavors are popping up everywhere in food and in beverage," according to Whole Foods, with many brands looking to the region for its "superfoods," which are said to boost health and longevity.

Tomatoes, onions and chili peppers are a common base for many West African dishes, according to Whole Foods and "peanuts, ginger and lemongrass are all common additions."

The trend also means that foods like moringa, a plant known for its health benefits, and tamarind may be used more in 2020. The grocer also predicts the increased use of West African cereal grains, including sorghum, fonio, teff and millet.

Refrigerated, 'single-serve' packaged goods

Instead of having to prepare things like hard-boiled eggs, pickled vegetables, soups and mini dips at home, stores will be selling these refrigerated snacks in "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," Whole Foods said. "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."

According to the grocer, snacking is on the rise, with "grabbing and going" becoming the norm.

Plant-based products, not just from soy

"In 2020, the trendiest brands are slowing down on soy, which has traditionally dominated the plant-based protein space," Whole Foods says.

Instead of soy, Whole Foods says brands will use grains, mung beans, hempseed, pumpkin, avocado, watermelon seed and golden chlorella, which is a type of algae. Some of these products can "mimic the textures of yogurt and other dairy products," says Whole Foods.

Whole Foods predicts the plant-based movement will continue to boom. The market for meat substitutes is expected to hit $2.5 billion by 2023, according to Euromonitor estimates.

Different butters and spreads

Whole Foods believes alternative spreads and nut butters beyond typical tahini, cashew, almond, peanut and chickpea will be popular in 2020 — like watermelon seed, for its nutritional value, or seasonally popular pumpkin butter.

"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," Whole Foods says. "Many brands are looking to either eliminate the use of palm oil or ... use nuts that are grown in ways with less likelihood for environmental impact."

Organic options for kids

Whole Foods predicts that food brands will expand their offerings to supply healthier, organic versions of nostalgic foods. This includes organic chicken nuggets, non-breaded salmon fish sticks and pastas made from alternative flours.

Although this isn't a new trend, Whole Foods believes these products will increase in popularity and availability in 2020.

"[The brands are] bridging the gap from old-school basic kids' menus and taking more sophisticated younger palates into consideration," Whole Foods said.

Organic products are available in nearly 20,000 natural food stores and in nearly three out of four conventional grocery stores, according to 2019 data from the USDA.

Sugar and syrup substitutes

Instead of syrups and sweeteners made from typical sugars, stevia, honey and maple syrup, in 2020, syrups made from monk fruit, pomegranates, coconut or dates may be common, along with syrups made from starches, like sorghum or sweet potato, according to Whole Foods.

Plant-meat blended products

"Butchers and meat brands won't be left out of the 'plant-based' craze in 2020," Whole Foods says. "But they're not going vegetarian."

The mega-grocer predicts meat that is "better for customers and for the planet" will rise in popularity next year, adding plant-based ingredients to meat products.

In 2019, Tyson Foods launched its first plant-meat blend products. Tyson's plant-meat products include protein burgers made from beef and pea protein, and sausages and meatballs that combine chicken with plants like chickpeas, black beans, and quinoa.

Perdue is also selling plant-meat blend nuggets, mixing chicken with cauliflower and chickpeas.

Alcohol-alternative drinks

The "sober curious" movement among millennials has gained traction, and by 2022, the U.S. market for low- or no-alcohol beverages is set to grow by about 39%, according to IWSR data reported by Time.

Whole Foods also predicts that non-alcoholic beverage alternatives will increase in popularity. These alternatives are distilled, just as alcohol would be, keeping the taste of classic cocktails and beverages.

Examples of this could include alt-gin for gin and tonics or botanical-infused faux spirits for a faux martini, which would appeal to customers not wanting to drink.

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