Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, revealed its first-ever plant-based trend predictions, with nut-based cheese alternatives, banana blossoms and creamy cashew dips topping the list. Looking ahead to summer and beyond, the grocer’s Trends Council pooled members’ industry knowledge, product-sourcing expertise and hands-on work with emerging and existing plant-forward brands to inform the predictions.
The choice to highlight plant-based predictions comes at a time when shoppers are focusing on eating more plants. According to a recent study by The Hartman Group, nearly half (48%) of consumers look for products labeled as “plant-based.”
“Plant-based is the grocery category to watch right now as brands continue to innovate by using new ingredients and processes that make plant-based products exciting for shoppers,” said Parker Brody, senior global category merchant for plant-based at Whole Foods Market, in a statement. “And in the laid-back days of summer, we find that customers are breaking out of their routines and are more open to trying something new, whether they’re longtime vegans or just starting to experiment with plant-based eating. So, expect to see gourmet plant-based cheese alternative spreads at picnics and fish alternatives made from banana blossoms on the grill this season.”
The following is Whole Foods Market’s Top 5 plant-based trends for the summer:
Pint-Sized and Plant-Based
Gone are the days of pleading with the kids to eat their fruits and veggies. For the littlest of eaters, brands are providing plant-forward options that come in kid-approved forms like nuggets, yogurt tubes and ice pops (did we mention they’re superhero themed?). These products are perfect for sneaking fruits and veggies into their meal and great for on-the-go backyard explorations.
Alternative Cheeses Go Gourmet
Give summer charcuterie boards an upgraded, plant-based twist with a distinctive assortment of cheese alternatives that are all dairy free. While using nut-based milks and ingredients like black garlic truffle, dill Havarti and chive is unique, plant-based cheesemakers are also replicating the methods used to make dairy cheeses for more authentic textures and flavors. Including a plant-based cheese will be sure to take your picnic basket to the next level.
BBQ for All (Yes, Even Vegans)
Remember when corn ribs broke the internet? Buckle up for more plants hitting the grill this summer that go far beyond the veggie burger: Think plant-based products like hot dogs, Italian-style sausages and even jackfruit BBQ. From algae-based casing to hickory smoke concentrate, these vegetarian options have unique ingredients making it easy (and flavorful) to incorporate more plants into cookouts. Mixing up classic grilling go-tos will leave meat lovers and vegetarians alike wanting more.
Plant-Based Catch of the Day
Get ready for a new wave of seafood substitutes that will be sure to surprise and impress! Ingredients like legumes and banana blossoms are being used to mimic the flaky texture of the real thing. This means alternative fish sticks, no-tuna sandwiches and a whole new depth of flavor in an otherwise simple fish dinner. So pop open some bubbly and wow friends with this fresh, new take on seafood.
Dairy-Free Dips in Disguise
Searching for a creamy dip to pair with a summer crudité spread? Look no further than these buttery-smooth and spreadable dips and cream cheese alternatives. Highlighting traditionally milky flavors like French onion, ranch and queso, they’re a fun and effortless way to enhance any starter course. They’re not just for dipping – smear on bagels, spread on sandwiches or dollop on crusty bread for a midday snack.