Whole Foods asked employees all the way from its corporate headquarters to its 490 stores to share their perspective on product trends and consumer feedback.
This year, regenerative agriculture topped the list, affirming the reality that food manufacturers must double-down on their commitment to supply chain transparency. General Mills’ outgoing sustainability chief Jerry Lynch told BakeryandSnacks earlier this year that “healthy soil is really kind of the anchor point where everything starts.” The practice of putting back into the soil what other crops take out has reached beyond organic farming practices and into the mainstream.
Tigernut flour, cauliflower power
For the bakery and snacks industry, Whole Foods found that alternative flours continue to intrigue consumers. In addition to the now-normal coconut flour, consumers will begin reaching for teff flour and Ethiopia’s protein- and fiber-packed injera.
Flour made from ground cauliflower continues its momentum by entering the baking aisle, alongside ‘super’ seed flour blends. The grocer hypothesized that more unusual flours – like those made from banana or tigernut, a small root vegetable grown in West Africa and Spain – will likewise diversify the category.
BakeryandSnacks has written extensively about the rise of snacking, as consumers – especially in developed markets – continue to eschew three meals a day for several snack times.
How is the industry responding to this movement? The refrigerated section seems to be the new frontier, with brands like Perfect Snacks (acquired by Mondelēz) and Peckish (owned by Sonoma Brands) disrupting the typical grab-and-go format.
Other innovations include drinkable soups, single-serve cottage cheese cups and overnight oats – namely, Brekki, a California brand making waves at Costco.
Fish, seaweed, and seeds
Peanut butter might be packed with protein, but companies have expanded their spreads into other base ingredients: macadamia nuts, watermelon seeds, and even chickpeas.
When it comes to food for kids, parents can find more squeezable purees made with sophisticated flavor profiles ranging from pea and basil to turmeric and curry. Seaweed might also finally have its day in the sun, with the Gimme brand targeting kids as well as adults.
These nutritious ingredients (think quinoa, mushrooms, and nuts) will continue to find a home in plant-based meat – or meat blends, ideal for those flexitarians following high-protein or keto-friendly diets.