These Are the Food Trends Whole Foods Is Predicting for 2024

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These Are the Food Trends Whole Foods Is Predicting for 2024

For the past eight years, Whole Foods has predicted the food trends that they believe will emerge the following year. Late last year, they guessed that dates, kelp and avocado oil would make an impact in 2023—you can decide if those predictions were accurate or not. This year, they’ve done the same for 2024, predicting the food trends that they believe are likely to take over grocery store aisles and Instagram feeds.

Some of these predictions feel inevitable, others feel exciting and still others have left me scratching my head, but I guess we’ll have to wait until this time next year to decide if they actually came to fruition or not. Let’s take a closer look at some of the trends Whole Foods is predicting for the coming year.

Plant-Based Meat That’s Actually Made Out of Plants

I can only pray this trend actually comes through for us. If I have to eat one more plant-based lab experiment, I might just become a carnivore. The tide is finally turning; people want their veggie burgers to actually taste like vegetables. Imagine! Let’s face it: Fake meat doesn’t yet taste like real meat, so we might as well just try to make vegetables as flavorful as possible. 

Creative Spiciness

The “swicy” trend doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, and it may be part of a growing movement for more creative spicy options. Spicy cocktails are popping up on more and more menus (for which I am deeply grateful), and we seem to be branching out from the jalapeño to a wider variety of spicy peppers. It’s great news for heat lovers and not-so-great news for anyone who has IBS.

Better-Quality Instant Noodles

David Chang’s Momofuku noodles may soon be joined on store shelves by other better-quality instant noodles. These aren’t the 15-cent Maruchan noodles of your childhood. Instead, product developers are experimenting with higher-quality ingredients, trying to attract those of us who want something slightly elevated even on nights when we can barely function enough to feed ourselves. Some of these brands are now thankfully using MSG for added flavor.

Plant-Based “Fish”

Fancy tinned fish is everywhere, but for the vegans and vegetarians among us, it’s been impossible to indulge in the trend. That may be changing, though. Some brands are introducing faux fish products to their lineup, from plant-based caviar to actual tinned “seafood.” Admittedly, I haven’t tried any of these products myself, and I have my doubts (see my opinions on the fake meat movement above), but time will tell if there’s actually a viable market for these products.

Individually Packaged Luxuries

Income inequality is worse than ever, inflation is making even high earners feel like they have to watch their wallets and it seems like we’ve all collectively sunken into a constant, low-grade state of existential dread. Enter what Whole Foods dubs “little luxuries.” They’re individually packaged “treats,” like macarons, fun drinks and salty snacks, all individually packaged so we feel like we can indulge without having to spend too much cash. This one seems pretty bleak to me! But maybe a fancy bottle of sparkling water will help me forget the fact that I’ll never be able to buy a home.

“Healthier” Caffeine

Brands are now spiking our coffee and other caffeinated beverages with supposedly healthy ingredients, like mushroom powder, ginseng and other “beneficial” additions that should apparently make us feel better about the fact that we have to drug ourselves to feel productive enough to make it through the day. Sure, I guess if you’re into that, go for it. But I just want to pound my plain old espressos in peace.

These are just a few of the trends that Whole Foods predicts we’ll be seeing in grocery stores in the coming year. They’re also expecting to see more products that contain buckwheat as well as all parts of the cacao plant. You may encounter products supposedly designed to optimize women’s health in the next year (feminism! right?) as well as foods that advertise their companies’ commitments to “water stewardship.”

Indulging in food trends can be fun from time to time, but ultimately, the food that gets me most excited—regardless of the year in question—is whatever fresh produce is in season and whatever I can buy from local farmers or small-scale producers. Even the most cutting-edge food brands can’t deliver true nourishment, the kind that comes from the most essential, basic ingredients of all. Of course, Whole Foods can’t successfully market cabbage like they can functional beverages, so you likely won’t see it on any of their year-end lists, but in my mind, the real food trendsetters are cooking fresh food from scratch (when they can) and enjoying it in the company of loved ones: a way of eating that will never go out of style.

Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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