These Are the Top Food Trends to Look for in 2021, According to Whole Foods

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food trend 2021
Vlada Tikhonova/Shutterstock
Vlada Tikhonova/Shutterstock

You might think of Whole Foods as that place where you buy slightly more expensive foods that can at least make you feel like you're eating healthier. You may not have realized, however, that the Amazon-owned grocer also moonlights as a sort of culinary Nostradamus.

Every year, Whole Foods unveils a list of the food trends it believes will become notable in the coming year. Some items on the list might feel slightly more Carnac the Magnificient than Nostradamus, telling us about trends already in progress or, possibly, things that sound a bit far-fetched. 

The list of "10 anticipated food trends" is pulled together by Whole Foods' Trends Council, which is comprised of "more than 50 Whole Foods Market team members, including local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts." The forecast for 2021 is unavoidably impacted by the global pandemic. Eating, dining, and shopping habits have changed dramatically under the specter of COVID-19.

"There have been radical shifts in consumer habits in 2020," Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, CMO at Whole Foods, says. "For example, shoppers have found new passions for cooking, they’ve purchased more items related to health and wellness, and more are eating breakfast at home every day compared to pre-COVID. Food trends are a sign of the times, and our 2021 trends are no exception."

However you might feel about the grocery store's effort to look deep into the crystal ball, it's well-positioned to see the trends coming and even make trends happen. Here is Whole Foods sees coming in 2021, a year which has to be more enjoyable than 2020. Fingers crossed. 

1. Well-being is served
"The lines are blurring between the supplement and grocery aisles," Whole Foods writes in its announcement, "and that trend will accelerate in 2021. That means superfoods, probiotics, broths, and sauerkrauts. Suppliers are incorporating functional ingredients like vitamin C, mushrooms and adaptogens to foster a calm headspace and support the immune system."

Examples: Cleveland Kraut, Beekeeper's Naural B.Powered Superfood Honey, Om Mushroom Superfood Mighty Mushroom Broth, Navitas Organics Superfood+ Adaptogen Blend Smoothie Booster

2. Epic breakfast every day
Due to the pandemic, more people are cooking for themselves regularly. Part of that is what marketers have labeled as the most important meal of the day. Whole Foods says there are a ton of new products on shelves or coming soon that will be focused on breakfast with "people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning. Think pancakes on weekdays, sous vide egg bites, and even 'eggs' made from mung beans."

Examples: Just Egg Folded plant-based "eggs," Meatless Farm: Meat-Free Sausage Patties, Meat-Free Breakfast Sausages, Birch Benders Pancake Keto Cups

3. Basics on fire
The header may not tell you a lot, but Whole Foods is predicting one here that is a trend underway already. "Home chefs are looking for hot, new takes on pantry staples," it says. People are looking for new inspiration and meals featuring pantry staples like pasta, sauces, and rice. 

Examples: Spicewalla Chai Masala spice; RightRice Risotto (release in 2021): Basil Pesto, Creamy Cracked Pepper; Acid League Living Vinegar; Otamot Sauce made with organic vegetables

4. Coffee Beyond the Mug
Whole Foods expects more and more people to get that coffee fix from places other than their usual morning cup. Those products include "coffee-flavored bars and granola, smoothie booster, and booze, even coffee yogurt for those looking to crank up that breakfast parfait."

Examples: Jameson Cold Brew Irish Whiskey, Marge Granola Georgetown Coffee Nib Muesli (release in 2021), Evolved Coffee Keto Cups, Nancy's Oatmilk Non-Dairy Yogurt - Cold Brew Coffee with Vanilla

5. Baby food, all grown up
This means exactly what you think it does. "Parents have never had a wider or richer range of ingredients to choose from," the experts at Whole Foods write. "We're talking portable, on-the-go squeeze pouches full of rhubarb, rosemary, purple carrots, and omega-3-rich flaxseeds."

Examples: Happy Baby Organics (release in 2021): Sweet Potatoes and Olive Oil with Rosemary; Pumpkin Tree Organic Mango Purée with Oat Fiber & Seeds + a squeeze of Orange; Once Upon a Farm Organic OhMyMega Veggie! with Ginger and Flax Seed

6. Upcycled foods
More and more food companies are looking for ways to tackle food waste. The grocer expects this trend to blossom. "We're seeing a huge rise in packaged products that use neglected and underused parts of an ingredient as a path to reducing food waste. Upcycled foods, made from ingredients that would have otherwise been food waste, help to maximize the energy used to produce, transport, and prepare that ingredient."

Examples: The Ugly Company: 100% Upcycled Kiwis, Apricots, and Peaches; Barnana Organic Banana Bites: Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup; Renewal Mill: 1-to-1 Baking Flour made from okara or upcycled soybean pulp; Imperfect Foods

7. Oil change
The grocer predicts that the shift from olive oil to other alternatives will continue in 2021. "At home chefs are branching out with oils that each add their own unique flavor and properties," it writes. 

Examples: International Collection Pumpkin Seed Oil; 88 Acres Seed Dressing, Smoky Chipotle Dressing with Sunflower Seeds; 365 by Whole Foods Market Grain Free Cassava Flour Tortillas made with sunflower seed oil

8. Boozed up booch
Hard seltzer has gone from trend mainstay in the world of booze. Next up, according to Whole Foods, is alcoholic kombucha. "Hard kombucha checks all the boxes: It's gluten-free, it's super bubbly, and can be filled with live probiotic cultures," Whole Foods says in the trends announcement. 

Examples: Strainge Beast Hard Kombucha: Ginger, Lemon & Hibiscus; Passion Fruit, Hops & Blood Orange; Juneshine Hard Kombucha: Blood Orange Mint, Acai Berry; Boochcraft Organic Hard Kombucha: Grapefruit Hibiscus; Kombrewcha Hard Kombucha: Ginger Lemon

9. The mighty chickpea
Chickpeas everywhere is the projection. How far does Whole Foods think that will go? "Chickpeas are the new cauliflower," it says, which is a pretty intense prognostication. Look for it to go far beyond chickpea pasta to "products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour, and even chickpea cereal."

Examples: Biena Vegan Ranch Chickpea Puffs; Peppi’s Green Gourmet GreekFreez frozen dessert made with chickpea aquafaba: Orange Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip; Chikfu Chickpea Tofu; Siete Family Foods Chickpea Flour Tortillas; Banza Pizza made with chickpeas: Margherita, Roasted Veggie

10. Fruit and veggie jerky
It's exactly what it sounds like: Jerky-like products made of fruits and veggies. "Now, all kinds of products from mushrooms to jackfruit are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies," Whole Foods says. 

Examples: Snack Jack Jackfruit Jerky: Cracked Pepper, Sweet Chili; Pan’s Zesty Thai Mushroom Jerky; Solely Organic Fruit Jerky: Mango with Chili & Salt, Pineapple with Chili & Salt, Mango with Drizzled Cacao; Wild Joy Banana Jerky: Original, Chipotle Lime, Ginger Teriyaki

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.