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Oat pulp, banana pasta and more make Whole Foods’ 2023 food trends list

The retailer on Wednesday released its eighth-annual food predictions list, a wide-ranging assortment that includes upcycled pulp, date-based products, kelp-inspired foods and more.
Whole Foods
Whole Foods predicts the top food trends of 2023. / Photo courtesy: Whole Foods

Fancy some fish-free fish sauce made with kelp? Or maybe a shot of kombucha infused with a caffeinated holly bush? How about some noodles fashioned from green bananas?

If the 2023 food predictions from Whole Foods Market pan out, grocers may want to make room on their shelves for some of these items.

Whole Foods on Wednesday released its eight-annual food trends forecast, a Top 10 list created by the grocer’s Trends Council, a group of more than 50 employees that includes local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts.

“We anticipate seeing these trends in the food industry at large, on dinner tables, in lunch boxes and on our store shelves,” Whole Foods CMO Sonya Gafsi Oblisk said in a statement. “We look forward to watching these trends come to life in our aisles in 2023.

Whole Foods on Wednesday began selling a curated box with 10 products that each represent one of the 2023 trends. The $30 box is available at wholefoodsmarkettrendsbox.com.

Here’s a closer look at the 2023 Top 10 food trends from Whole Foods:

  1. Yaupon is a holly bush native to the southeastern U.S. that’s the only known North American caffeinated plant, Whole Foods said. Indigenous people brewed it into a tea. At Whole Foods’ headquarters in Austin, Texas, bartenders are experimenting with yaupon on cocktail menus.
  2. Pulp that’s leftover from the production of non-dairy milk is finding new use in upcycled products such as alternative flours, baking mixes and ready-to-eat sweets. Products may include oat, soy or almond pulp.
  3. Produce-infused pasta that moves beyond cauliflower gnocchi and zucchini noodles made the list, featuring pasta made with spaghetti squash, hearts of palm, green bananas and more.
  4. Dates have been used since ancient times to sweeten dishes, but Whole Foods said the dehydrated fruit is now seeing a renaissance. Dates are being used to impart a sweet flavor to foods such as ketchup, overnight oats and barbeque sauce.
  5. Well-treated chickens are becoming increasingly important to consumers. Whole Foods said shoppers should expect to see more chicken and eggs that have been raised in a humane and sustainable fashion. “Egg producers in the dairy case at Whole Foods Market are stretching beyond our better-than-cage free Animal Welfare Standards for Laying Hens, with even more focus on outdoor time,” the grocer said in a statement.
  6. Kelp is a nutritious and versatile product that is making its way into a number of different food products, including kelp-infused snack foods, noodles, vegan fish sauce and more.
  7. Sustainable labels have been a big deal for quite some time, but Whole Foods expects climate-conscious products to continue to grow in 2023. “Across our aisles, products are taking to their labels to talk about sustainability efforts in a time when consumers expect brands and retailers to do more related to carbon and climate,” the retailer said.
  8. Revamped, retro foods have a chance at hitting it big next year, the grocer said, citing Mintel Global Consumer research that found that 73% of shoppers enjoy things that remind them of their past. But these aren’t your typical after-school snacks. “Retro products are being reinvented with consideration for the wellness-conscious customer, creating the ultimate mash-up of throwback indulgences with better ingredients and special diets in mind,” Whole Foods said.
  9. Pet wellness will be even more important next year, the grocer said, as many pet parents return to the office following a pandemic pause. Expect to see higher-quality pet food and more pet supplements such as bone broth and wellness-focused treats.
  10. Avocado oil is ready to go mainstream and is predicted to take the place of canola and safflower oil in snacks, mayonnaise and ready-to-eat meals, Whole Foods said. Avocado oil is winning fans because of its high oleic fatty acid content and high smoke point, the grocer said.

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