Amid soaring sales of plant-based foods, which grew 27% to $7 billion in 2020, according to thePlant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute (GFI), Whole Foods Market is predicting certain products will be hotter than hot this summer.
For the first time, the Austin-based grocer’s Trends Council has revealed its plant-based trend predictions, with nut-based cheese alternatives, banana blossoms and creamy cashew dips topping the list. To inform its predictions, the Trends Council pooled members’ industry knowledge, product-sourcing expertise and hands-on work with emerging and existing plant-forward brands.
The choice to highlight plant-based predictions comes at a time when shoppers are focusing on eating more plants, Whole Foods said. 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 of plant-based for 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.”
Whole Foods’s Top Five Plant-Based Summertime Trends
1. Alternative Cheeses Go Gourmet
Give summer charcuterie boards in picnic baskets an upgraded, plant-based twist with a distinctive assortment of cheese alternatives that are all dairy-free, the grocer suggested. 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.
To try the trend, shoppers can dig into Miyoko’s Creamery Artisan Vegan Cheese, Semi-Firm Smoked English Farmhouse or Semi-Soft Double Cream Classic Chive; Treeline Sea Salt & Pepper Soft French-Style Nut Cheese; Kite Hill Spreadable Cheese in Garlic & Herb or Cracked Black Pepper; Cheeze & Thank You’s Vegan Dill Havarti and Vegan Black Garlic Truffle Fontina (available only in Illinois stores).
2. Barbecue for All (Yes, Even Vegans)
Whole Foods asks, 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 barbecue. 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, says the company.
To try the trend, shoppers can look for Field Roast Signature Stadium Dog; Upton’s Naturals’ Updog Vegan Hot Dog or Bar-B-Que Jackfruit; Lightlife Plant-Based Italian Sausages; and a recipe for Spicy Grilled Tempeh from Whole Foods Market.
3. Pint-Sized and Plant-Based
For the littlest of eaters, brands are providing plant-forward options that come in kid-approved forms like nuggets, yogurt tubes and ice pops. These products are perfect for sneaking fruits and veggies into kids’ meals and great for on-the-go backyard explorations.
To try the trend, shoppers can grab Ripple Kids Non-Dairy Milk; Miyoko’s Creamery Plant Milk Cheddar Sticks; 365 by Whole Foods Market Plant-Based Nuggets; Kite Hill Kids Strawberry Banana Almond & Coconut Milk Yogurt Tubes; and Chloe’s Plant-Based Kids Pops in Avengers and Spider-Man themes.
4. Plant-Based Catch of the Day
Get ready for a new wave of seafood substitutes that will be sure to surprise and impress, Whole Foods said. 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.
To try the trend, shoppers can look to put these items in their baskets: Upton’s Naturals Banana Blossom (a flower that is a fish alternative); Good Catch Fish-Free Tuna Mediterranean, Oil & Herbs, Naked in Water; Vegan Tuna in Whole Foods Market’s chef’s case; trumpet mushrooms for recipes like “Vallops” (vegan scallops).
5. Dairy-Free Dips in Disguise
Those searching for a creamy dip to pair with a summer crudité spread can reach for 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, said Whole Foods.
Shoppers seeking to try the trend can look to Kite Hill Dairy-Free Dips in Queso, French Onion, Ranch and Tzatziki; Siete Dairy-Free Cashew Queso in Mild Nacho and Spicy Blanco; Credo Plant-Based Strawberry Cashew Cream Cheese (available only in the Southwest region); Whole Foods Market Plant-Based Queso; and Bitchin’ Sauce in Original, Chipotle and Cilantro Chili.
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