- Next year will see a surge in superfoods and probiotics, according to Whole Foods Market's newly released food trends for 2021. Unveiled Monday, the predictions anticipate new approaches to breakfast and pantry staples, along with more coffee-flavored products, portable squeeze pouches and upcycled foods. Shoppers can also expect to find non-olive oils, alcoholic kombucha, chickpeas as the "new cauliflower" and fruit and vegetable jerky.
- Published annually, the trends forecasts are compiled by more than 50 Whole Foods Market employees, including regional and global buyers, local foragers and culinary experts.
- The trends report offers predictions into how consumers' habits may evolve. Whole Foods is suggesting plant-based eggs, meatless sausages and sous vide egg bites will all grow in popularity as shoppers pay greater attention to breakfast and that products supporting health and immunity will also be trendy.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has upended grocery shopping habits from the prepared foods to meat and poultry aisles, 2020 has shown how fickle predicting customer desires a year down the road can be. Not to mention that Whole Foods’ 2021 predictions align with lists of its in-house "Try the Trend" products either in the works or newly introduced. Without any indication of a quantitative methodology, the reliability of these predictions is questionable.
That being said, grocers can approach 2021 with a baseline of what consumers, who are working from home more and going out to restaurants less, are looking for when grocery shopping.
Meal kits by providers such as Blue Apron, Sun Basket, and Hello Fresh are witnessing spikes in popularity, as are convenient and indulgent snack items. In addition, ingredients that require longer or more advanced preparation have attracted more attention than before the pandemic, when shoppers may previously have been too intimidated to cook with them.
Kroger is already capitalizing on the shift to more at-home cooking. The grocery store chain recently partnered with smart food platform Whisk to convert recipes into shoppable lists for Kroger stores and also launched a tool to turn tweeted photos of products into recipes.
Another food trend keeping pace in 2020 is plant-based items. In December, Whole Foods became the first national retailer to add Just Egg products to its prepared foods aisle. The pandemic may indeed have strengthened consumers’ concerns with shopping sustainably, according to a survey by consulting firm Kearney earlier this year. The Kearney survey also suggested that certain aspects of convenience and cost become secondary in consumers’ minds to environmental concerns.
The Plant Based Foods Association tracked sales on meat alternatives growing twice as quickly as those for traditional meat. With COVID-19 outbreaks at several major meatpacking plants, the meat industry’s supply chain issues may have opened a window for plant-based providers to expand their consumer base in the long term.