back to top

The 5 Biggest Food Trends For 2016, According To Whole Foods

Finally, wine in a can has its day.

Posted on

Now that we know what the good people of Pinterest think will be the biggest food trends in 2016 — jelly salad! — a big, extremely on-trend grocer is sharing its predictions.

Whole Foods may have only 412 stores in the U.S., but it occupies a solid place among the country's "grocery trendsetters," said Daniel Granderson, analyst at ‎ Its success has encouraged competing stores to add similar organic, sustainability-oriented products to their shelves, creating a dent in Whole Foods sales recently. The company's next big challenge is to reach a more mainstream, middle-income market as it rolls out its lower-cost "365" stores.

The company asked all of its global buyers to identify the top trends that are likely to take off in 2016 based on sales data, customer feedback, and their own insights. Here's what they came back with.

1. Strange new meats and meat cuts

Who can eat chicken breast day after day? "Concerns about food waste combined with the whole-animal movement are leading people to try new cuts of meat," Whole Foods said in its 2016 trends report. Pictured above: blue catfish (an invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay originally introduced 1970s and 1980s for recreational fishery) and a less exotic, but still eye-catching crown roast (rib chops arranged and tied up in a circle) to shake up your meat routine.

2. Wine in a can

Whole Foods

Wine consumption per capita is on the rise in the U.S., encouraging new packaging designs for everyday drinking. Boxed wine is common enough now, and canned wine is popping up in more stores. "It’s hard to keep your pinky up when you’re drinking wine from a 375 ml can," declared Oregon winemaker Union Wine on its website. Francis Ford Coppola Winery has a 187-milliliter can called Sofia Mini, which comes with a straw. "They’re recyclable, chill quickly, light and safe," said Whole Foods.


3. Plant-based everything

Instagram: @quaffonbloomington

Despite all the nutritional and environmental information out there about the consequences of eating too much meat, Americans are eating vegetables less frequently than they did five years ago, according to research by NPD Group. Ongoing health and environmental concerns have led culinary leaders, such as the James Beard Foundation and Culinary Institute of America, to encourage veggie-heavy menu innovation, by, for example, mixing mushrooms into burger patties to reduce meat consumption. It's not just food either: Whole Foods is now also offering plant-derived body and hair care products, which contain ingredients like quinoa protein and chestnut extract.

4. Fermented foods and probiotics

Kate Raynes-Goldie / Via Flickr: ideaconstructor

This year, there were fermentation festivals in places like Portland, Oregon, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and Santa Barbara, California. "Come celebrate fermentation," the Berkshires event page says. Kombucha, a kind of fermented tea, already is having a moment. Whole Foods said other fermented foods such as Korean gochujang, kimchi, sauerkraut, and dairy products like kefir also are becoming more popular.

5. Wheat-free and other alternative flours

Whole Foods

The growing numbers of people going gluten-free has encouraged Americans to explore a whole new array of flours beyond plain-old wheat. These include flours made from legumes, teff (a grass), amaranth (a plant), and nuts.

Here's hoping for another delicious year ahead.

Venessa Wong is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Wong covers the food industry.

Contact Venessa Wong at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.