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Whole Foods produce trends to take root(-to-stem) in 2018

Whole Foods Market’s global buyers and experts announced the most anticipated food trends for the year ahead. Floral flavors, functional mushrooms, root-to-stem recipes and trending Middle Eastern ingredients — pomegranate, eggplant and cucumber —  are just a few of the picks expected to take off in 2018. The seasoned trend-spotters thoughtfully compiled this list based on more than 100 years of combined experience in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences.rootstem

Root-to-stem
Between nose-to-tail butchery and reducing food waste, a few forces are combining to inspire root-to-stem cooking, which makes use of the entire fruit or vegetable, including the stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten. Recipes like pickled watermelon rinds, beet-green pesto or broccoli-stem slaw have introduced consumers to new flavors and textures from old favorites. To try the trend consumers should check out the produce butcher at Whole Foods Market Bryant Park; root-to-stem salad bar items, featuring Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and celery seasonal varieties; Melon Seed Agua Fresca; Butternut Squash with Celery Leaves and Orecchiette; and bagged broccoli slaw.

High-tech goes plant-forward
Plant-based diets and dishes continue to dominate the food world, and now the tech industry has a seat at the table, too. By using science to advance recipes and manipulate plant-based ingredients and proteins, these techniques are creating mind-bending alternatives like “bleeding” vegan burgers or sushi-grade “not-tuna” made from tomatoes. These new production techniques are also bringing some new varieties of nut milks and yogurts made from pili nuts, peas, bananas, macadamia nuts and pecans.

Floral flavors
Foragers and culinary stars have embraced edible petals for years, but floral inspiration is finally in full bloom. From adding whole flowers and petals into dishes to infusing botanical flavors into drinks and snacks, this top trend makes for a subtly sweet taste and fresh aromatics.

Functional mushrooms
Shoppers are buzzing about functional mushrooms, which are traditionally used to support wellness as an ingredient in dietary supplements. Now, varieties like reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane star in products across categories. Bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies and teas are leading the way. The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate or coffee flavors. Body care is hot on this mushroom trend too, so look for a new crop of soaps, hair care and more. 

Transparency 2.0
More is more when it comes to product labeling. Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top-of-mind, but shoppers seek out other details, too, such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards.

This year’s predictions came from Whole Foods Market’s experts and industry leaders who source items and lead trends across the retailer’s cheese, grocery, meat, seafood, prepared foods, produce and personal care departments, and spot trends for the retailer’s more than 470 stores.