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Sunflower Seeds, Reducetarianism Among Whole Foods Top 10 Trends

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Whole Foods Market global buyers and experts on October 18 unveiled their Top 10 anticipated food trends for 2022 in the retailer’s seventh-annual trends predictions report. Sunflower seeds, reducetarianism, yuzu citrus,  buzz-less spirits, moringa  and functional beverages made with prebiotics and botanicals are among the food influences expected to rise in popularity in the next year.

Each year, a “Trends Council” of more than 50 members of the natural and organic food retail team, including local foragers, regional and global buyers, and culinary experts compile trend predictions based on experience and expertise in product sourcing and studying consumer preferences, as well as in-depth workshopping with emerging and existing brands.

“Last year, we saw tremendous pandemic-related shifts in grocery buying habits as the world adjusted to spending more time at home. As the food industry slowly adjusts to a new normal, we expect to see consumers prioritize food and drink products that deliver additional benefits—like functional sodas and tonics— and products that support their sense of well-being, like urban garden greens and products grown with farming processes that help address soil health,” said Sonya Gafsi Oblisk, chief marketing officer at Austin, Texas-headquartered Whole Foods Market. “We look forward to watching these trends take form in grocery aisles and on our plates in 2022.”

While Whole Foods Market’s predictions for 2021 — including upcycled foods, boozy kombucha and the up-leveled pantry staples — continue to evolve, the 2022 Trends represent the future of food and beverages. Here they are, in no particular order:

Seize the Sunflower Seed

After fueling grand slams and double plays for years, sunflower seeds are branching out of the ballpark and sliding into ice creams, crackers and creamy cheeses that deliver protein and unsaturated fats. An example of this is Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts made with sunflower butter.

Ultraurban Farming

In 2013, Whole Foods opened a pioneering Whole Foods Market store in Brooklyn, New York, with a Gotham Greens greenhouse on top, providing sustainably grown herbs and salad greens in greenhouse systems using sunlight and 100% renewable electricity. Since then, innovation in indoor farming has ballooned, from hydroponics and aquaponics to mushrooms grown above grocery aisles — and even produce grown by robots. Producers are finding new, boundary-pushing ways to grow hyper-local crops and maximize efficiency.

You Do Yuzu

Yuzu — a lesser-known citrus fruit mainly cultivated in Japan, Korea and China — is taking the culinary world by storm. Tart and sour, this tangerine-sized fruit is popping up in vinaigrettes, hard seltzers, mayos and more. On the restaurant scene, chefs are using its lime-lemon-grapefruit flavor to accent soups, vegetables, noodles and fish. Get ready to see this fruit shine in 2022 — both on and off the grocery aisles.


For plant-curious eaters not yet ready to give up meat entirely, an option may be “Reducetarianism” — reducing consumption of meat, dairy and eggs without cutting them out completely. When animal products are on the menu, reducetarians make them count, opting for premium grass-fed meat and pasture-raised eggs. Among frozen products reflecting this trend are Applegate Well Carved Organic Meat & Veggie Burgers.

Hisbiscus is Happening

Hibiscus has a long and delicious history in the world of teas, and customers have historically kept it in their rotations for its vitamin C content. Now, producers are harnessing its sweet, tart flavor in the form of fruit spreads, yogurts and beyond. Of course, beverage makers are keeping up, leaning on hibiscus to craft drinks that adopt its signature hot-pink hue.

Buzz-less Spirits

The dialed-down spirits category experienced record growth at Whole Foods stores this year. With Millennials and Gen Z-ers dabbling in “drysolation” during the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, there is a now a new lineup of drinks that provide taste and sophistication of cocktails without the buzz. 

Grains that Give Back

Grocery grains that are grown via agriculture practices and farming processes that help address soil health are on the shopping lists of environmentally-conscious consumers. Kernza, a perennial grain developed by The Land Institute with a sweet, nutty flavor and long roots, helps with nutrient cycling and overall soil ecology. It is found in cereals and beer.

Moringa’s Moment

Often called the “miracle tree,” moringa is traditionally used as an herbal remedy in India, Africa and beyond. Moringa leaves have plenty of nutrients, and these fast-growing, drought-resistant trees have been used as a source of food to fight malnutrition in certain parts of the world. Gaining steam in the USA as matcha’s latest alternative, it can be found in powder form and added to make magic in smoothies, sauces and baked goods. It’s also showing up in unexpected products like frozen desserts, protein bars and packaged grain blends.

Functional Fizz

Bubbly beverages are doing double duty these days, as consumers are looking for sparkling drinks that not only taste great but also offer ingredients that balance out the sweetness. Enter soda with probiotics and fizzy tonics with added prebiotics, botanicals and more, which run the gamut from Poppi Prebiotic Sodas to Sound Grapefruit Sparkling Water with Tea & Botanicals.

Turmeric Takes Off

Turmeric, aka “the golden spice,” has been used for centuries in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, and has become popular in the USA as a dietary supplement. While golden milk lattes and turmeric supplements are nothing new, the spice is taking root as an ingredient in plant-based ice cream cookie sandwiches as well as in sauerkrauts and breakfast cereals.