10 Food Trends to Look Out for in 2024, According to Whole Foods

published Oct 17, 2023
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How do we make age-old favorites feel fresh? What’s the latest in the land (and sea) of sustainability? How can we infuse a little luxury into our everyday lives? Is it time to give vegan fish another try? (Spoiler: Yes!) Whole Foods Market is answering these burning questions and more with its annual list of the 10 most anticipated food trends.

Credit: Whole Foods Market

Compiled by dozens of Whole Foods team members, including local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts, collectively also known as the Trends Council, this year’s food trend predictions are a wonderland of what’s to come. “There are a lot of amazing things happening,” says Cathy Strange, ambassador of food culture for Whole Foods Market and member of the Trends Council, “not only with [a] product and flavor focus, but also initiatives that align with regenerative agriculture, sustainability, and how we’re managing packaging.” 

One that really stands out to Cathy? Complex heat! “You think that some of those profiles are over and done, but they’re not really because pre-pandemic they never reached their height.” Beyond spicy expanding its full potential, here are the top trends to look out for in 2024.

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1. Plant-Forward Plant-Based

Retailers are clearing shelf space for the OGs of plant-based cuisine: Vegetables. While meat-y dupes certainly aren’t a thing of the past, “we’re seeing new and emerging protein-forward products with mushrooms, walnuts, tempeh and legumes in place of complex meat alternatives,” according to the Trends Council. Even plant-based milks, the Three Trees, are minimizing their list of ingredients to just two (in this case, water and almonds).

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2. Whole Cacao

Once again, we’re seeing brands find ways to repurpose (or upcycle) production by-products, like cacao pulp — a practice that’s been present in other countries for centuries. Students at EARTH University in Costa Rica are experimenting with jellies and jams made with the once discarded pulp. Meanwhile brands, like Blue Stripes (a winner in last year’s The Kitchn Essentials Groceries) are spotlighting the whole cacao in its granolas, trail mixes, chocolate bars, water, and more

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3. Buckwheat

Buckwheat, the nutrient-dense seed (hello, fiber and protein) has been a long-time staple in pancakes, banana bread, soba noodles and, yes, chocolate chunk cookies, and it’s finding new popularity as a cover crop to support soil health. Expect to see it featured in many of your favorite items, like crackers, granola, noodles, and more.

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4. Fancy Vegan Fish

Tinned seafood is the shortcut to easy, everyday meals with a touch of luxury, and now “it’s prime time for the fancy fish trend to dip its fins into the vegan pond,” according to the Trends Council. These plant-based seafood brands are bringing the flavor and texture with carrots (in place of lox), mushrooms (as snow crab), and konjac (in sushi rolls and poke bowls). 

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5. Water Stewardship

Conservation is popping up on shelves across the grocery store. Whole Foods first named regenerative agriculture — practices that improve soil, animal welfare, and the lives of farms — a trend in 2020. Four years later, it continues to, well, grow. More and more brands are seeking out a Regenerative Organic Certification, which means soil health initiatives (and ultimately water conservation) are a requirement. We’re seeing new water brands use water from fruit by-products, certified staples (like rice and beans), support for farmed oysters, shampoo bars, laundry detergent sheets, and even household cleaners.

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6. Complex Heat

The spice trend is only getting hotter and more complex. Similar to conservation, “global peppers,” like scorpion peppers, guajillo or Hungarian goathorn peppers “are taking off in every aisle,” explains the Trends Council. Whether that’s in fresh, whole, ground, or pickled forms, among others, a new wave of sauces, chili oils, drinks, meats, and meals are popping up on shelves. “Even Tajin is expanding [beyond] candies and cocktails … to grocery store sushi, desserts, and more.”

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7. Gourmet Noodles

If instant noodles are one of your non-negotiable pantry staples, you are most def not alone. Which is probably why brands have not only taken note, but invested in some serious (and dare we say, successful) R&D — emphasis on the D. The result: all the ease and even more slurp-ability from your favorite and emerging brands, like Momfuku, Omsom, Sun Noodle (a 2023 The Kitchn Essentials Groceries winner), A-SHA, Lazy Food Co., and more. 

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8. Little Luxuries

We’ve been touting the power of little luxuries for years. These grocery-store buys come with an under $10 price tag — sometimes way less — and a real “treat yo self” energy. Think: inexpensive dinner upgrades (à la fancy tinned fish) and just-for-you finds (creamy French desserts and fruity bubblies) to add to your cart. More brands are getting in on the fun by considering both cost and format, like individual serving packages. We’re (still) here for it.

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9. Women’s Health

Women account for approximately 51.1 percent of the population in the U.S. and have since 2013. So we’re thrilled to see (finally!) more brands putting their health needs front and center. “We’re seeing more brands making products,” like supplements, multivitamins, teas, and more, “to support periods, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, and even sleep that address life stages and symptoms previously swept under the rug,” explains the Trends Council.

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10. Caffeine+ 

Your go-to source of caffeine is getting a boost of its own. New coffee and energy drinks are adding mushrooms, pre/probiotics, vitamins, and more to their cans, bags, and pods. As the Trends Council states, “Combining a boost with benefits has never been easier.” 

Which trend are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments below!