CINCINNATI — At the top of shoppers’ lists this year were diet soft drinks, shredded cheese and flavored potato chips, according to The Kroger Co. Consumers also packed their carts with white wine, heavy whipping cream, fresh burger patties, artisan bread, single-serve coffee pods, party-size packages of assorted chocolate and Black Forest ham.
“The most popular foods and beverages of 2020 underscore how our customers not only adapted to the challenges of this unique year but embraced cooking and eating at home as part of their new routine,” said Stuart Aitken, chief merchant at Kroger. “As many of our customers transitioned to working from home and virtual schoolrooms this year, coffee, fresh deli meat and artisan bread emerged as go-to staples for elevated breakfast and lunch routines, while zero-calorie soft drinks, unique potato chip flavors, wine and chocolate stood out as comfort-food favorites. Fresh ground beef, premium buns and shredded cheese also rose in popularity as our customers recreated their favorite restaurant-style burgers at home.”
With these insights in mind, Kroger’s team of product developers, chefs and innovators developed a list of trend predictions for the year ahead, including examples of products the retailer sells under its private label brands Simple Truth and Private Selection.
“Many of our customers rediscovered their passion for cooking and baking at home in 2020 and aspire to eat more healthy foods and explore more unique tastes and flavors in the year ahead,” Mr. Aitken said. “We’re excited about what Our Brands will offer customers in the new year through innovation and by delivering the fresh, flavorful and on-trend foods they expect from Kroger’s industry-leading portfolio of brands.”
Expect an acceleration of food and beverage products featuring functional benefits to support immune health, digestion, cognitive health, energy levels and stress management. Products offered at Kroger stores include a superfood almond butter, elderberry gummies, organic sparkling kefir water and caffeinated water.
Consumers also will continue to seek easy-to-prepare comfort foods, such as quick-cook risotto, deep-dish chocolate chunk cookie, aged white cheddar macaroni and cheese, and brown butter bourbon truffle ice cream. More than 60% of Kroger shoppers are spending more time cooking at home and experimenting with global flavors and recipes while restaurant dining and travel remain limited. The retailer offers an ancho chile with rojo mole meatloaf kit, a pad Thai stir-fry kit, and an Indian-inspired coconut curry simmer sauce.
Specialty diets remain popular among health-conscious consumers, but personalized approaches to eating may blend the trends. Kroger predicted a rise in “ketotarian,” a meatless spin on the low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic lifestyle. Products include keto cheddar cheese crisps, keto chocolate chip ice cream, popped protein crisps and plant-based patties and grinds.
Mushrooms may be a breakout star of 2021, adding antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, plus a savory flavor, to a variety of applications, including blended plant-based proteins, condiments, spices, seasonings and more. Kroger offers quick-cook mushroom risotto, organic mushroom umami herb seasoning rub, beef and mushroom blended patties and grilled mushroom and truffle oil thin crust pizza.
Sustainability is influencing purchase decisions, too. Products that reduce carbon footprint, reduce food waste or feature plastic packaging will gain greater traction in the new year, according to Kroger. Innovative solutions are cropping up in the produce aisle, from no-cry onions to plant-based coatings that extend the shelf-life of produce.