- Immunity-boosting, gut-healthy and stress-reducing “futureproof foods” such as almond butter, probiotic kefir water and elderberry gummies topped Kroger’s trend predictions for 2021, according to a company press release published on Thursday.
- The national grocer’s projections also listed easy-to-prepare comfort foods, vegetarian keto diet meals, international and restaurant flavors, mushroom-rich products, eco-friendly items and technologically innovative products as likely hits next year, as well.
- In addition to the predictions, Kroger ranked 2020 trends, which reflected typical shopping habits during the pandemic: zero-calorie soda; snack foods like shredded cheese, flavored potato chips and variety chocolates; and items to recreate favorite restaurant-style meals at home, such as deli meats, fresh burger patties and artisanal bread.
Kroger’s top 2021 trend of "futureproof" foods that target long-term immunity and gut health falls in line with predictions by specialty food purveyors Natural Grocers, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods Market. Though the “food as medicine” category has been on grocers’ minds for years and ranked among Kroger’s predictions last year, immunity-strengthening supplements, probiotics and antioxidants have taken on new importance in shoppers’ minds during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As the focus on food and health continues, national chains such as Kroger are growing their natural, organic and wellness-focused private labels. Like other grocers' 2021 predictions, Kroger is using its list as a way to promote store brands that now bring in more than $20 billion annually.
Kroger’s predictions for 2021, which were created by Kroger Our Brands product developers, chefs, innovators and its culinary experiences team, highlight the spike in home cooking as well as the increasingly popular high-protein, low-carb keto diet combined with vegetarianism. Kroger listed items such as risotto kits, spice mixes and pre-made curry sauces as appealing to the home cook looking to bring restaurant-style meals into the kitchen in 2021.
The predictions feature products such as keto ice cream and Emerge plant-based patties from its Simple Truth private label, which Kroger has been growing this year. The chain announced in October that by the end of 2020, it expects Simple Truth Plant Based to offer more than 75 foods and beverages and rolled out a plant-based “Chick’n” line. Plant-based foods featured in several of Kroger’s 2021 trends, including mushroom-rich products, eco-friendly choices and “fresh innovation” that use technology such as hydroponic farms to provide off-season produce.
Though it’s far off from a mainstream practice, hydroponic technology has received more attention from Kroger than other national brands, as the chain has brought miniature hydroponic produce farms to several stores.
Looking back at 2020, quick lunch-friendly items like artisanal bread, zero-calorie drinks, shredded cheese mixes, potato chips and deli meats had a good year, according to Kroger’s year-end trends, reflecting the rapid rise of the at-home lunch since the onset of the pandemic.