What’s Driving Grocery Sales in 2021?

As we look ahead and assess consumer needs and preferences post pandemic, there are clear trends that emerged and gained steam over the past year that don’t show any signs of slowing in 2021 and beyond. These four trends signal big opportunities for growth in center store.

Eating for Wellness

The last year has trained consumers’ attention on the vulnerability of their health—and how inextricably linked it is to their environment, including the foods they eat.

“Eating for wellness means the same thing to us as it does to our consumers and to a lot of people generally,” says Xavier Unkovic, President and CEO of Amy’s Kitchen. “These are foods that are made with care and purpose—and with whole, natural and organic ingredients you can pronounce. And we put vegetables, whole grains and legumes at the center.” 

This approach aligns with the values consumers shared in a survey conducted by The Hartman Group in April 2020. According to the study, 41% of functional food and beverage consumers polled said “natural” is a desired attribute in their product choices, 32% said they prefer to avoid artificial ingredients, and 19% said they specifically seek organic options.

Convenience Without Compromise

No matter what kind of flavors and foods shoppers are interested in, one thing is consistent: they want convenient, great-tasting, wholesome meal solutions.

According to a survey of 1,000 adults conducted by International Food Information Council in December, 32% of respondents were more likely to cook semi-prepared meals, and 36% cooked more simple, easy-to-prepare foods In 2020. 

With many people working from home, dealing with schedule changes and school disruptions, consumers see meals as an opportunity to take a break or regroup and don’t want to spend their limited time cooking and cleaning up. By offering more variety, higher-quality frozen meals and vegetarian and vegan options, grocery stores can outshine their competitors and create loyal shoppers.

Plant Based Popularity 

“Plant-based diets have been on a multi-year growth trajectory, and this year looks like the perfect setting for more upward growth thanks to shoppers appreciating the health and environmental benefits of plant-based items and the industry’s many innovations,” says Jacob Knepper, Retail Solutions Manager at SPINS. 

While a majority of consumers don’t follow strict vegetarian or vegan diets, a growing number are incorporating plant based into their diet in some way. According to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, 34% of consumers eat a vegetarian or vegan meal at least once a week; 14% say they are eating more vegetarian or vegan meals now than they were two years ago.

Globally Inspired Eats

Flavors and ingredients found in global cuisine continue to trend. As consumers eat out less and are craving adventurous flavors to break up the monotony, they are seeking out prepared global favorites—from Mexican to Asian to Indian—as recipes are often too sophisticated to make at home. To feed the need, shoppers are heading to the frozen food aisle.

By offering high-quality, convenient, heat-and-eat foods for shoppers craving something globally inspired, retailers position themselves as the go-to for quick and delicious options.

Feeding the Need

Amy’s has been producing delicious meals made with whole, organic ingredients for decades. And with some of the highest repeat purchase rates across the category, Amy’s offers consumers (vegetarian, vegan and otherwise) the taste and quality they are seeking. 

For more about today’s consumer trends and the opportunity at retail, visit tradeinsights.amys.com.