Whole Foods Market might be a lot of things – expensive, innovative, and not as friendly to local suppliers as it used to be – but it’s hard to deny its outsized influence in the food and beverage space.
CPG stakeholders can expect to feel the effect of that presence after its latest report, which shares what it expects to be hot in 2022.
“Last year, we saw tremendous pandemic-related shifts in grocery buying habits as the world adjusted to spending more time at home,” Whole Foods CMO Sonya Gafsi Oblisk explained. “As the food industry slowly adjusts to a new normal, we expect to see consumers prioritize food and drink products that deliver additional benefits — like functional sodas and tonics — and products that support their sense of well-being, like urban garden greens and products grown with farming processes that help address soil health.”
Whole Foods 2022 trends
- Urban farming: Urban, and indoor, farming, has embraced innovation over the last decade, whether it’s hydroponics, aquaponics, and robotics. As a result, producers have leaned into groundbreaking ways to grow “hyper-local crops” and improve efficiencies.
- Yuzu: Yuzu — a once-obscure citrus grown in Japan, Korea, and China — will break into the mainstream in 2022. Brands are incorporating this tart, tangerine-sized fruit in vinaigrettes, hard seltzers, and mayos. In addition, chefs are increasingly incorporating its lime-lemon-grapefruit flavor in soups, veggies, pasta, and fish.
- Reducetarianism: While the number of vegans and vegetarians has held steady, more consumers are curious about plant-based foods. This trend has given birth to “reducetarianism” – cutting back on meat, dairy, and eggs without eliminating them. And when consumers do choose animal products, they want sustainably produced, traceable offerings.
- Hibiscus: Hibiscus has a storied history in the tea business, and consumers love it because of its vitamin C. In 2022, producers will further leverage its sweet, tart flavor in fruit spreads, yogurts, and other new formats. Additionally, beverage manufacturers will expand their use of hibiscus in new product launches.
- Alcohol-free: Alcohol-free beverages have emerged as the most significant abstinence trend since consumers started turning their backs on sugar. After alcohol-free beer sales jumped dramatically in 2020, faux cocktails and alcohol-free spirits saw similar spikes in 2021. The experts at Whole Foods expect that to continue in 2022. So millennials, Gen Zers, and other “sober curious” consumers are here to stay.
- Grains: Consumers want more responsible grains – those grown sustainably with consideration for soil health. Kernza, for example, is “a perennial grain developed by The Land Institute with a sweet, nutty flavor and long roots that help with nutrient cycling and overall soil ecology.”
- Sunflower Seeds: Manufacturers are turning to sunflower seeds for several new products, such as crackers, ice creams, and creamy cheeses. Most sunflower seed snacks, which boast protein and unsaturated fats, also claim the added benefit of being produced without nuts.
- Moringa: Locals have used moringa as an herbal remedy in India and Africa for years. The leaves of these drought-tolerant trees are loaded with nutrients. Brands have started using them as a viable alternative to matcha and adding it to smoothies, sauces, and baked goods.
- Bubbles: Carbonated drinks remain a staple, but brands are leveraging them in the functional space, made with popular probiotics, prebiotics, and botanicals.
- Turmeric: Turmeric’s been a mainstay with traditional Chinese apothecaries but has surfaced as a go-to ingredient in U.S. dietary supplements. Companies are now incorporating the “golden spice” in other products, such as cereals, sauerkrauts, and plant-based desserts.
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