Whole Foods Predicts 2021 Food Trends

Expect new jerkies, alcoholic kombucha and increased focus on health and wellness.

October 22, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas—Each year, a council of Whole Food Market team members reviews everything going on in the grocery industry and makes predictions about the top 10 food trends for the coming year. Progressive Grocer has released the forecast for 2021 for food retailers to see what will be in—and out next year.

“There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Whole Foods. “For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID. Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception.”

Here are the 10 trend predictions from Whole Foods for 2021:

  1. Well-being is served: The lines are blurring between the supplement and grocery aisles. Expect consumers to choose more superfoods, probiotics, broths and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster calm and support the immune system. 
  2. Epic breakfast every day: With more people working from home, breakfast is getting attention every day. There’s a whole lineup of innovative products tailored to people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Think pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites and even “eggs” made from mung beans.
  3. Basics on fire: Home chefs are looking for hot new takes on pantry staples. The basics will never be boring again. Get ready for reimagined classics like hearts-of-palm pasta, applewood-smoked salt and “meaty” vegan soup.
  4. Coffee beyond the mug: Java is giving a jolt to all kinds of food. Coffee is now in coffee-flavored bars and granolas, smoothie boosters and booze and even coffee yogurt for those looking to crank up that breakfast parfait.
  5. Baby food, all grown up: Thanks to culinary innovation, parents now have a wide range of ingredients to choose for their youngsters. Available options are portable squeeze pouches full of rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots and omega-3-rich flaxseeds.
  6. Upcycled foods: There's a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods, made from ingredients that would have otherwise been tossed, help to maximize the energy used to produce, transport and prepare that ingredient. 
  7. Oil change: Different oils are coming to the skillet or salad dressing. At-home chefs are branching out with oils with unique flavors and properties. Walnut and pumpkin seed oils lend a nutty flavor. Sunflower seed oil is hitting the shelves in a bunch of new products and is versatile enough to use at high temps or in salad dressing.
  8. Boozed-up kombucha: Alcoholic kombucha is making a strong flex in the beverage aisle. It’s gluten-free, bubbly and filled with live probiotic cultures. 
  9. The mighty chickpea: The time has come to think beyond hummus, falafel and even chickpea pasta. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour and even chickpea cereal. 
  10. Fruit and veggie jerky: Jerky isn’t just meat anymore. Now all kinds of produce, from mushrooms to jackfruit, are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies. ​The produce is dried at peak freshness to preserve nutrients, and suppliers are spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle.
Food is a basic life necessity, but knowing what customers want is critical to foodservice retailers looking to satisfy clientele. At the upcoming NACS Crack the Code Experience make sure to join in on uniquely tailored sessions on foodservice, including Understanding Dayparts and Optimizing Each Hour of the Day; Feeding the New Consumer: Health, Food Trends, Pandemics and More!; A Guide to Capitalizing on Key Consumer Moments; Beverages for the Win; Strategies of Category Management Superstars; Competing for Food Sales; Bananas and Donuts: Good vs. Fresh vs. Healthy; and Calculating the ROI of Foodservice. Register for the Crack the Code Experience today!
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