AUSTIN, TEXAS — Plant-based foods, increased interest in sustainable foods and practices, and the return of popular classics highlight potential new trends in 2023, according to a new report from Whole Foods Market. The report is created by the retailer’s Trends Council of food industry experts.
“We’re thrilled to see things like baked goods with upcycled pulp from plant-based milks and ingredients like farmed kelp continue to gain popularity,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer for Whole Foods. “From product labels that include sustainability efforts to poultry and egg suppliers that are leading the way in animal welfare, many of this year’s trends predictions showcase brands on a mission to make a true impact.”
Whole Foods has high expectations for some emerging ingredients, with yaupon taking its top spot. As North America’s only native caffeinated plant, the holly bush ingredient is becoming increasingly popular for its earthy tones and energy benefits, particularly in cocktails and other beverages.
Increased consumption of milk alternatives is creating opportunities for upcycled byproducts in the baking industry, the company’s No. 2 trend. Whole Foods expects to see an increase in the use of oat, soy and almond pulp in a variety of applications, including alternative flours, mixes and confectioneries.
Other sustainable practices also account for some of 2023’s top trends. In particular, the company emphasized growing concerns over animal welfare in the production of chicken and eggs and the importance of manufacturers including sustainability messaging on their labels.
Environmentally conscious foods ranked highly in the Whole Foods’ report, with plant-based pastas coming in as the No. 3 trend. With increased demand for plant-based alternatives broadly, the company sees an opportunity for growth in the pasta category that has a new generation of products popping up on shelves, including spaghetti squash and banana-based pastas. Products featuring kelp were also in the year’s top trends, offering a nutritious alternative that can be produced sustainably with ease.
In addition to their use in pastas, some fruits are trending upwards with new applications. Dates have become an increasingly popular sweetener ingredient in pastes and syrups, and avocado oil is seeing greater use in packaged foods as a replacement for other oils due to its higher oleic fatty acid content.
Manufacturers also are reinventing classics amid increased demand for nostalgic foods, according to Whole Foods. One of the report’s final trends, the company expects to see health and wellness versions of childhood favorites like pizza bites and cereals.