AUSTIN, TEXAS — Creamy cashew dips and seafood substitutes top the list of plant-based trend predictions compiled by Whole Foods Market. The grocery retailer tapped the industry knowledge and sourcing expertise of its members to identify the brands and products to watch this summer and beyond, citing recent data from The Hartman Group indicating nearly half of consumers seek 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. “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.”
Gourmet cheese alternatives, made with nut-based milks and ingredients such as black garlic truffle, dill Havarti and chive, add a plant-based spin to charcuterie boards and picnic baskets. Some products are created using traditional cheesemaking methods, providing more authentic textures and flavors. Examples stocked on Whole Foods shelves include Miyoko’s Creamery semi-firm smoked English farmhouse and semi-soft double cream classic chive, Treeline sea salt and pepper soft French-style nut cheese, and Kite Hill garlic and herb spreadable cheese.
Plant-based barbecue-ready options such as hot dogs and Italian-style sausages may be hitting more grills this year. Algae-based casing and hickory smoke concentrate are among ingredients incorporated in new meatless cookout mainstays, including Field Roast signature stadium dog, Upton’s Naturals Updog vegan hot dog and barbecue jackfruit, Lightlife plant-based Italian sausages.
Brands are reimagining child-friendly classics such as nuggets and ice pops, featuring plant-forward formulations for picky eaters. Non-dairy offerings include Ripple Kids non-dairy milk, Miyoko’s Creamery plant milk cheddar sticks, and Kite Hill Kids strawberry banana almond and coconut milk yogurt tubes. The retailer also offers plant-based nuggets under its 365 by Whole Foods Market brand.
The seafood category is awash in alternatives, with mushrooms, legumes and banana blossoms standing in to recreate items like fish sticks, canned tuna and scallops. Whole Foods offers Good Catch fish-free tuna, made with beans and lentils, and Upton’s Naturals banana blossom, which is a southeast Asian flower with a flaky, fishlike texture.
New plant-based dips bring traditional dairy flavors, such as ranch, queso and tzatziki, and buttery texture to bagels, sandwiches, vegetables and more. Whole Foods highlighted examples such as Kite Hill dairy-free dips, Siete dairy-free cashew queso and Bitchin’ Sauce cilantro chili dip.