Grab a cart for these 2021 grocery trends

Leah McGrath

We can’t say for sure what grocery store shelves will look like in 2021, but here are some good bets.

A woman shops in a grocery store.

Packaging: Family-size vs. personal grab-n-go – For many years we've seen the rise in "grab-n-go" beverages and personal sized items that are considered convenient to carry for the individual. With "stay at home" and work from home becoming more commonplace during the pandemic, the popularity of family-sized packaging has reemerged as the shopper's choice. 

Plant-based: The term "plant-based" is having a moment, whether it is being used as a euphemism to avoid calling a product vegan/vegetarian or as a health halo ("plant-based" potato chips), it seems to be the term du jour on front-of-package marketing. Large companies more well-known for their animal products are purchasing small niche "plant-based" brands to add to their portfolios. Legacy brands like Kellogg's are innovating with plant-based products such as Incogmeato. Everyone seems to want to throw their hat in the plant-based ring.  

Partially Plant: Food items that are partially plant-based are making an appearance, like blends of meat/poultry and plant-based ingredients in frozen items and a blend of cow's milk and almond milk in the dairy section.

A woman shops in a grocery store.

Prevention: Though the FDA and the FTC have publicly punished and criticized various brands and marketers for making immune "boosting" claims with regards to COVID-19, many continue to try to carefully skirt this by using "immune supporting" or " help immune system" or "promote immune system health." Expect to see more products with this sort of (inaccurate and unproven) language this year. No one food or meal is going to protect someone from COVID-19. It's crucial to follow CDC, state and health department guidance regarding wearing a mask, handwashing/hand sanitizing and physical distancing. 

Product Shortages: As customers continue to stay home and primarily cook at home, many brands are discontinuing less profitable or popular products to focus production on best/better sellers.

Prices: COVID-19 outbreaks across the food supply chain from farms to food processing facilities and packing facilities have caused issues with shortages in supply and increases in prices on many food products and ingredients. This, coupled with increased demand, means buyers are working hard to try and fill shelves and meet customer demand. All of this has resulted in grocery prices increasing on a variety of items.