The Top Grocery Trends for 2021, According to Instacart

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: CC Buckley

Few companies know more about what Americans bought from grocery stores over this wild year than the grocery delivery app Instacart — and now the company has compiled that data and used it to predict what food trends and shopping habits they expect in the coming year.

To create the predictions, they combined the info they had of what users bought in 2020 with a survey of 2050 adults. They came up with five key shifts in their “New Year, New Cart” list for the coming year. Overall, they say that wild days of baking and quarantine comfort foods will fade away. Here’s what they think we’ll see instead.

1. A Spiced-Up Pantry

People looking to “keep things interesting” while they stay home have really upped the hot sauce spending, purchasing piri piri sauce, Lao Gan Ma chili crisp, and gojuchang in big numbers. Other people will look to milder but still big flavored ingredients like anchovies — sales of which were up 85% from one year to the next.

2. Keto Keeps Going

The keto diet has been all over everything for a long time, so plenty of brands have tried to capitalize on its popularity by creating products to help people satisfy their snack and sweets cravings without breaking their diets. It’s working: Instacart saw a 72% increase in sales products with “keto” in their name from one year to the next.

3. Low Octane Drinking

Searches for hard kombucha increased more than three-fold recently, hard seltzer more than five-fold. (Curiously, the former mainly on the West Coast, the latter in the Midwest and East.) Then there was the huge increase in alcohol-free spirits, which Instacart suspects may join up with the homemade craft cocktails popular with people working from home for a low-alcohol drinks trend.

4. Purpose-Driven Purchases

People are thinking more about how they spend their money: Instacart’s survey showed that Americans spent time researching local brands, as well as ones owned by women and/or non-white people. The company highlights a few amazing products that customers have enjoyed that are made by Black women, like Uncle Nearest whiskey.

5. When We Shop

One of the biggest shifts in shopping this year — and stretching into the new year, says Instacart, is that people have started shopping at different times and on different days. While weekends remain the most popular, the distribution of which days orders are placed was more evenly distributed, and there was a small increase in weekday orders. A more significant uptick was in orders placed during working hours — after all, what else are people going to do on their breaks while they’re already at home?

Have you noticed these trends, too? Let us know in the comments!