We Taste-Tested the 2022 Whole Foods Trend Report

By Eric Kemp and Sara Behrendt

January 4, 2022

Every year Whole Foods publishes their annual food trend report with the top foods they expect to see on shelves in the coming year. This year, our design team decided to take the 2022 Trend Report for a test-drive. We ordered the official Whole Foods Trend Box and also went into our local stores to see what was really on shelves and try some new products out for ourselves. Here’s what we found — what we liked and didn’t like. But first, a little about us.

Eric Kemp is a Senior Designer. After traveling our beautiful country twice over in an RV, he has developed a deep appreciation for our diverse flavors and dishes. With the only exception being goat cheese, he’ll try just about anything.

Sara Behrendt is our Creative Director. She’s a new arrival to Portland, Oregon after spending most of her life in the Bay Area. She’s not afraid of gluten or dairy — bring on the bread and butter. She also has a tea blog (on hold for now because toddlers) where she likes to explore new flavors and recipes.

And now, let’s get to the 2022 food trends.

1. Ultra-urban farming

What do you do when you live in a crowded city, yet crave fresh produce that can’t be grown on a small apartment terrace? Ultra-urban indoor farming is the answer. Produce is harvested in just about any setting imaginable to bring city-dwellers that farm fresh quality we all deserve. 

Forward Greens Awesome Arugula

Sara: Forward Greens grows their greens in indoor farms near me in the Pacific Northwest. My local Whole Foods carried a good selection and I tried the arugula. It was exactly what I expected and seemed very fresh. I also really love that their packaging uses up to 50% less plastic than traditional clamshells.

2. Yuzu

Mainly cultivated in East Asia, this tangy delight is a nice addition to the more commonly used citrus fruits we’re more familiar with. Its flavor profile is tart and sour, and can be used to freshen up some of your favorite dishes. We’ve been familiar with yuzu for a few years now since it’s a go-to flavor for many bakers on The Great British Baking Show.

Acid League Pink Peppercorn Honey Yuzu Vinaigrette

Eric: This would have been perfect on a cool, refreshing salad on a hot summer’s day topped with some berries and paired with lemonade. I felt out of season as I was pouring it on some spinach with the outside low reaching 20 degrees, but enjoyed its light citrusy flavor nonetheless.

Sara: I’ve seen these salad dressings in stores but never had a reason to buy them before. The packaging is beautiful. I thought the taste was good, but it didn’t blow me away. I expected something a little more unique, but it was a fairly standard salad dressing. The yuzu citrus flavor was there, but wasn’t very forward.

3. Reducetarianism

The idea is simple: eat less meat. Reducetarian products contain a combination of savory meat alongside other ingredients that pair well like veggies, grains and fruit. These new products showcase delicious and creative ways to reduce our meat consumption. Active Ingredients is hyped on this trend because it can positively affect our relationship with land and animals, and help heal our planet.

Epic Bars — Bison Bacon Cranberry and Beef Jalapeño Bar

Eric: This is what I would call an elevated jerky; it’s not your Grandpa’s gas station go-to. It paired nicely with slices of sharp cheddar and pear and left me pleasantly full. The additional add-ins complimented the bison bacon, making another case for reducetarianism and how flavor combinations can effectively supplement the more meat” mentality.

Applegate Well Carved Turkey and Veggie Patty

Sara: I was excited to try this and it was the only true reducetarian” frozen meat I found in my Whole Foods. But, I regret to inform you that my family did not like these. This patty has a mix of organic turkey combined with organic sweet potato, white beans, kale, and roasted onions. I fried it in a pan to get some browning. It browned okay, but for me the taste and texture just wasn’t there. My 2‑year-old daughter tried a bite, but wouldn’t eat any more.

Eric: It cooked like a burger, but it tasted legumey.” I would suggest a fully vegan Beyond burger over this and skip the turkey entirely.

4. Hibiscus

When you think of hibiscus, you might imagine the striking, aromatic flower. But, don’t be fooled by its delicate looks as this wild edible plant can really bring the bite. Its flavor is reminiscent of cranberry or pomegranate and can be used in all sorts of foods. In 2022, we’re excited to see it blossom in not only beverages, but in other unexpected applications. It’s a flavorful antioxidant that deserves more shelf time.

The Water Kefir People Strawberry Hibiscus

Sara: This drink actually hits 2 Whole Foods trends: hibiscus as well as the functional fizz” category. This is a canned sparkling probiotic with strawberry and hibiscus flavors. This was one of my favorite finds from the taste test. It was delicious and tasted real. It was just sweet enough and the strawberry, lemon and hibiscus flavors really shined through. I would absolutely buy this again. 

Ruby Hibiscus Water

Eric: Firstly, check out the website. It’s a whimsical treasure. This drink has 0g sugar, 0 calories and is organic, gluten-free, plant-based and kosher. The first sip has the same amount of flavor as the more sugary pomegranate beverages out there, which is super impressive! I had to split the bottle in half due to its tartness and enjoyed it over two sittings. 

5. Buzz-less spirits

We can appreciate a well crafted cocktail (or two) and can most definitely get behind non-alcoholic alternatives to help promote a healthier lifestyle. One of the exciting aspects about this market is that options continue to grow. So if you’re a gin drinker, try a buzz-less spirit from Ritual. If you are a craft beer connoisseur, order a sampler pack from Athletic Brewing. Cheers!

Seedlip Spice 94

Sara: Even before writing this article, I was a big Seedlip spirit fan and their Spice flavor is my favorite. Their spirits don’t try to mimic traditional alcohol flavors. This flavor is just a really wonderful warming drink that has notes of allspice, cardamom and citrus. I often put it in a Pamplemousse La Croix with a squeeze of citrus. I also tried it with eggnog over the holidays which was amazing.

Ritual Tequila Alternative

Sara: Unlike Seedlip, Ritual’s spirits do try to mimic traditional alcohol flavors. This is their tequila alt which I find surprisingly accurate. I usually use this in a faux-margarita. The taste isn’t 100% the same but it’s a very good approximation. Sometimes I will use half real tequila and half Ritual Tequila if I don’t mind some alcohol and want more of a true flavor.

Greenbar Lavender Bitters + Soda Non-Alcoholic Cocktail

Eric: I think the challenge with buzz-less spirits is that they need to differentiate themselves from other sparkling waters and beverages. They need some hint of an adult drink in order to establish itself as a non-alcoholic drink. Greenbar does a decent job of replicating that sensation, leaving a nuanced aftertaste that was reminiscent of gin. I think next time I would do it up with some ice and mint leaves to really recreate a well crafted cocktail.

6. Grains that give back

Simply put, this trend is about treating our soil with the respect it deserves. The star of this show is Kernza®, a perennial grain that can be used in baked goods and even beer. We expanded our grocery search to include grains beyond Kernza that are regenerative and create biodiversity. We are all about innovation and creative thinking, and as long as it tastes delicious, dish it up! 

Annie’s Organic Shells & White Cheddar with Whole Grains

Eric: My 19 month daughter asked for seconds with frantic hand gestures. The noodle is more hearty and filling, and the cheese is thicker than some of the soupier” varieties out there. The packaging actually features the farms who provided the grains and is very informative in exactly how the product is helping our environment.

Sara: I loved that the flavor and texture here didn’t feel wildly different from Annie’s other mac and cheese products. My 2‑year old loved it and I would absolutely buy it again. This mac uses wheat and spelt grown with regenerative practices, but we love that their other products also make environmentalism fun for kids with Plant Pals” and Pollinator Pals” shapes.

Yolélé Fonio

Sara: Fonio is a gluten-free ancient grain. It’s grown by small farmers all over West Africa and is able to thrive in drought conditions and less than ideal soils. Yolélé’s fonio product supports biodiverse, regenerative and climate-resistant farming systems. I first heard of Yolélé’s fonio because their packaging was done by Paula Scher and her team at Pentagram. Fonio is a very fine grain — uncooked it’s almost like sand. When cooked, it’s a lot like couscous but even finer. It’s earthy and a little nutty, but mostly a blank canvas. I tried it on its own — just olive oil and salt — and it was very tasty. I would absolutely eat this again.

7. Sunflower seed

This isn’t your average nut alternative to crowd the plant-based milk shelves at your local grocery store. Where the sunflower seed really shines is from an allergen standpoint — because it’s not a nut. Sunflower seed products are safe to bring to school and can be used in a variety of ways. Just as importantly, it tastes great in all sorts of foods from ice cream to salty snacks.

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream — Mint Chocolate Cookie

Sara: Ben & Jerry’s now makes a non-dairy ice cream where the base is from sunflower milk! I am not a big mint chocolate chip fan but this was surprisingly delicious. My initial reaction was that it isn’t as creamy as dairy ice cream. But, after trying it a few more times I don’t really notice the difference and if I preferred the flavor of a sunflower based ice cream — I would buy it instead! I also really liked that there wasn’t any discernible flavor difference in the ice cream itself from the sunflower milk. It didn’t taste like eating sunflower seeds.

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream — Milk Cookie

Eric: These guys are notoriously generous with their fillings. So much so that if there was a slight difference in the creamy vanilla base, I wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe, just maybe, there was a slight hint at that nutty sunflower taste (I acknowledge that it’s a seed), but it wasn’t a dealbreaker by any means. I would definitely enjoy it again, but maybe this time not in one sitting!

Fix & Fogg Oaty Nut Butter

Eric: This was a fan favorite in the family. It’s a spreadable nut butter that brought the crunch. In one bite, you experience several flavors at once and it doesn’t just come off as peanut butter.” 

Seven Sundays Real Cinnamon Grain Free Cereal

Sara: This cereal grabbed my attention with just 6 ingredients and then I noticed the second ingredient is sunflower protein. My first impression is that this cereal is really hard. You can leave it in milk for 5 or 10 minutes and it barely softens. That’s a little off-putting but honestly I still really liked this cereal. It had a good flavor and I do prefer crunchy over soft. I could also be biased because who doesn’t love the nostalgia of a bowl of cereal.

8. Moringa

If you’re matcha’ed out, a nice way to change things up is to try what’s being touted as the next best superfood. The most powerful point to be made about the miracle tree” is it’s long list of potential benefits.

Kuli Kuli Daily Green Boost with Moringa & Supergreens

Eric: My wife and I have always enjoyed cold pressed juices and shots. We downed it fast. Fair warning, there is caffeine in this product! If you need some convincing, just read the label and get stoked on the benefits.

Sara: I’m sure it’s good for you but I certainly wouldn’t want to drink this every day. It was a very vegetal taste and hard to separate out the moringa flavor from the other greens. 

Sunscoop Mint Chip Moringa Ice Cream

Eric: I might be biased here as the sunflower seed alternative by Ben and Jerry’s was just so delectable. And creamy. The Sunscoop Mint Chip lacked the creaminess. This might be better advertised as an Italian Ice or something similar.

9. Functional Fizz

This is a step-up from the fun flavored seltzers we’ve seen trending the past couple of years. Just imagine your Beach Plum” La Croix loaded with gut-friendly ingredients. As with flavored seltzers, consumers won’t be disappointed with the variety of options out there each touting their own healthy benefits.

Poppi Strawberry Lemon Prebiotic Soda

Eric: Our favorite of the featured fizzies. I enjoyed the rich taste and the slight bitterness of the apple vinegar. There is no lack of fizz either!

Sara: I loved how strawberry‑y this tasted. I didn’t mind the sharpness from the apple cider vinegar. But, I had to stop drinking after a few sips because it has a very synthetic stevia taste that I am not a fan of. I wanted to love this but I just couldn’t.

Ardor Organic Sparkling Water — Hydrate + Focus

Eric: There isn’t anything especially remarkable about this bubbly beverage. It’s sparkling water spiked with natural caffeine. I did enjoy how the mint finishes nicely after each sip.

10. Turmeric

Turmeric is a health food mainstay, and it’s exciting to see it’s still finding new ways to delight our taste buds. We’re surprised it took so long to make the list, but we’re excited consumers will get to experience turmeric in more ways than ever before in 2022.

Nature’s Path Golden Turmeric Superfood Oatmeal & Cereal — Single Serving

Sara: I was wary of this product because I know turmeric can be overwhelming. But, I was pleasantly surprised and this turned out to be one of my favorite products from the taste test. It was really a perfect mix of just enough sweetness and just enough turmeric (plus other spices) so that you can taste them clearly but they don’t take over. Would buy again!

Nature’s Path Golden Turmeric Cereal

Eric: Our family had purchased this product before and absolutely loved it. There is such a nice balance between the turmeric, coconut and cinnamon flavors. Goes great with oat milk!

365 by Whole Foods Market Golden Chai Granola

Eric: Again, great with some sort of milk. We ended up whipping up some Justin’s Peanut butter and golden chai granola protein balls as a crunchy snack.