The Top Grocery Trends for 2021, According to Leading Grocer

New food products proliferate on the shelves large and small grocery stores each year, and who better to gauge what trends are on the horizon for 2021 than the team behind a leading national grocery chain.

A team of product developers, chefs, and innovators from Kroger recently cast their predictions for top trends emerging in grocery stores next year, as well as products the retailer will sell under its in-house labels Simple Truth and Private Selection.

Based on what's been popular with shoppers this year, the grocer predicts that making comfort foods at home—including quick-cook risotto, white cheddar macaroni and cheese, and brown butter truffle ice cream—is a trend that's here to stay. (Related: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make.)

"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 to Food Business News.

"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."

Shredded cheese, fresh ground beef, and premium buns also soared in popularity in 2020 as consumers attempted to recreate their favorite restaurant-style burgers in their kitchens. With so many customers now baking and cooking more at home, Aitken says they're showing increased interest in buying healthy foods and exploring new flavors and tastes.

According to the team's analysis, more than 60% of Kroger shoppers report experimenting with global flavors and recipes as they spend more time at home. As far as appealing to those who wish to experiment, Kroger offers an ancho chile with rojo mole meatloaf kit and a pad Thai stir-fry kit—just to name a few. (Don't miss These Are the Two Best Diets For Heart Health, According to Doctors.)

In 2021, Kroger expects to see a boost in food and beverage products featuring functional benefits to support immune health, digestion, cognitive heath, energy levels, and stress management. Currently, Kroger offers superfoods like almond butter, organic sparkling kefir water, caffeinated water, and elderberry gummies.

The grocery giant also predicts a "ketotarian" diet—think keto, just without meat—will become popular among many customers. This includes a higher demand for easy keto-friendly snacks like cheddar cheese crisps, keto chocolate chip ice cream, popped protein crisps, and plant-based patties (as well as ground versions).

Finally, Kroger speculates that mushrooms will snag the spotlight this year. Try Kroger's organic mushroom umami herb seasoning rub and grilled mushroom and truffle oil thin-crust pizza if you're interested in sampling what's projected to be the superstar ingredient in the new year.

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