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Whole Foods Market experts forecast top 10 food trends for 2016

America’s Whole Foods Market is one of the nation’s trendiest retailers. Here’s what its product experts have pinpointed as the 10 top food trends to watch in 2016. From “old-world” ingredients to emerging flavours and sourcing trends, ttheir forecast covers a lot of ground.

Uncommon meat and seafood: Lesser-known meat and seafood options are making their way from restaurant menus and local obscurity into mainstream American kitchens. Thanks to heightened awareness around food waste, renewed interest in artisan butchers and a host of other factors, once-overlooked cuts like sirloin top, pork T-bone chop, and Denver steaks are becoming fair game for at-home cooks.

Offbeat—and more sustainable—seafood species like farmed paiche and wild-caught blue catfish are also making a dinnertime debut, easing pressure on popular picks like salmon, tuna, and shrimp.

Wine in a can: Options that provide accessibility and convenience without trading quality, will continue to gain traction. Cue the aluminum can—a portable, easy-to-chill option that’s well suited for single servings and active, outdoor lifestyles. Today’s pop-tops are the new popped-cork.

Plant-based everything: Plants are playing a meatier role in a surprising number of products, and not just for vegan and vegetarian alternatives. This year’s plant-forward movement will be all about harnessing the power of plants—from quinoa protein in haircare products to vitamin-rich veggies in frozen dessert pops.

Fermented foods and probiotics: Whether shoppers are seeking gut health or a different flavour sensation, fermented foods and probiotics are growing like good bacteria. Fiery picks like kimchi and gochujang will continue to gain steam, while innovative options like chiogga beet kraut and non-dairy tonics will add variety.

Non-GMO-fed verified products: As shoppers demand more transparency in their food, the non-GMO movement will continue to gain momentum. Growth and innovation in the animal protein category will be especially strong, thanks to the recent development and approval of non-GMO verification methods for animal feed.

Grass-fed 2.0: With new grass-fed products—from milk, eggs, yogurt, butter, and cheese options to packaged meat snacks and even protein powders—sprouting up across stores, grass-fed has proven it’s no longer a niche category for health fanatics or Paleo devotees.

Dehydrated foods: Gone are the days of empty-calorie snacking. Today’s shoppers are trading up for healthier, whole-food based snacks with simple, quality ingredients. Unlike the kale chip craze of years past, 2016’s dehydrated trend takes it to new heights—from dehydrated broccoli, brussels sprout, and parsnip chips to sophisticated salmon, bison, and chicken jerkies with grown-up flavour combinations.

Heirloom ingredients beyond the tomato: Heirloom ingredients are making a comeback and not just in the produce aisle. Prized for flavours and traits that have been preserved for centuries, these “old-world” edibles are popping up in all kinds of packaged goods.

Tiny But Mighty Heirloom Popcorn, Madécasse Chocolate made with heirloom cocoa, and Seely’s Mint Patties made with heirloom black mitcham peppermint are just a few examples of trending products.

Alternative and wheat-free flours: “Alternative flours” are not so alternative anymore. People are going nuts for gluten-free flours made from legumes, ancient grains, teff, amaranth and, well, nuts. Chickpea flour is a quick riser, while other legume-based flours are showing up in bean-based pastas and other packaged goods.

“Old World” flavour adventures: “Old World” flavours with a twist continue to see significant gains, especially flavours from Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, as well as Middle Eastern ingredients. 

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