Food Experts Predict the Hottest Grocery Store Trends of 2021

eugene-zhyvchik-guxYaHLb9Pk-unsplashDuring 2020, one of the most turbulent years in recent memory, the grocery store really took center stage. But what might we expect to be flying off the shelves of grocery stores in 2021? That was the question asked by grocery store researchers across the industry, and several studies were recently released answering that very question.

Here are some of the foods insiders expect to be big business this year.

Food as medicine 
Although the "food as medicine" category has been on the minds of grocery store brands for years, since the novel coronavirus pandemic, immunity-strengthening vitamins, probiotics, and antioxidants have taken on new significance in the minds of shoppers. 

Kroger's trend projections for 2021 were led by immunity-boosting, gut-healthy, and stress-reducing "future-proof foods" such as almond butter, probiotic kéfir water and elderberry gummies. For the new year, anti-inflammatory root vegetables such as ginger and turmeric, gut-healthy kombucha, fiber-rich nuts, and premium olive oil were listed as potential breakout foods by grocery chain The Fresh Market.

Ancient grains 
According to the Whole Grains Council, consumers are expected to go big on ancient grains this year. Ancient grains, such as amaranth, millet, teff, farro, and freekeh, are a term used to describe protein, fiber, and potassium-rich grains. Think of them like rice, but with more nutrients. Ancient grains are hardy and grow with lower pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation levels, making them an appealing option for customers who are looking to shop with their carbon footprint in mind.

Keto foods
A high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet is known as a ketogenic diet. Meat, fatty fish, and eggs are the primary keto food sources. The Instacart online grocery platform recently released a 2021 study forecasting food shopping habits to watch out for. They found that customers will move to more keto diets, following a year of indulging in comfort foods and booze. Twenty-eight percent of those who pursued a diet in 2020 opted for the high-fat, low-carb keto diet, according to Instacart's survey.

Chickpeas, reimagined
After looking at billions of data points, the food trends research company Spoonshot collaborated with international food forecaster Liz Moskow to forecast the food trends influencing consumer food behavior in 2021.

Close to the top of their list of findings? The humble chickpea.

It's time to think of the use of chickpeas beyond hummus and falafel. Chickpeas are the new cauliflower, high in fiber and plant-based protein. Their versatility is almost infinite, popping up in products like chickpea tofu, chickpea flour, and even chickpea cereal.

According to food trendologist Liz Moskow, flatbreads and crusts made from chickpea flour are expected to move into the American frozen food sections, giving cauliflower crust pizzas a run for their money. Beyond 2021, expect to see chickpeas' use expand into other areas, including dairy-free ice cream and meringues. 

Exotic chili sauces
While many relied on their favorite comfort foods last year, data from Instacart indicates that in 2021, individuals will be ditching their bottles of Crystal hot sauce and looking to the rest of the world for their spice needs. Instacart research found five spices and condiments that have increased their year-over-year sales significantly:

  • Piri Piri hot sauce (up 725%)
  • Lao Gan Ma chilli crisp (up 227%)
  • Za'atar (up 39%)
  • Turmeric (up 18%)
  • Gojuchang korean cilli paste (up 17 percent )

Speaking to HuffPost, Instacart trends expert and senior product manager Laurentia Romaniuk had this to say: "Consumers are looking for quick and easy ways to spice up the meals they've been making at home, and we're seeing a lot of interest in handcrafted shelf-stable sauces and spice blends."

No matter what else this year may bring, the food trends of 2021 promise to be healthful, wholegrain, and full of flavor.