Company Updates

New Year, New Cart: The Tastes and Trends of 2021

Instacart

Instacart

Dec 10, 2020

A look at what home chefs will be reaching for next year

Is it 2021 yet?

With the holidays just around the corner comes the hope of a new year … and resolutions, inevitable diets and food trends that come with it.

This year has (for better or worse) been the year of the home chef. According to a new Instacart survey of 2,050 U.S. adults conducted recently online by The Harris Poll, nearly half of all Americans (47%) say they still like to cook most, if not all of their meals, from home. From stockpiling dried beans and canned goods to nursing sourdough starters — 2020’s food trends were in one word: unpredictable.

While nobody could have foreseen the quirky food and grocery shopping trends in store for us last December, signals for 2021 look a bit stronger. With more consumers preparing meals at home and buying their groceries online, we dug into Instacart grocery purchase trends and consumer survey data to uncover five key shifts in shopping behavior, buying preferences, and food attitudes after nearly a year of COVID-19 pandemic living and cultural shifts.

“The events of 2020 have forever changed how Americans shop for groceries and household goods,” says Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s Trends Expert and Senior Product Manager. “After months of binge baking, drinking more and indulging in quarantine comfort foods, our findings show that the pendulum is swinging the other way as online consumers set their sights on a new year full of bolder flavors, lower-alcohol cocktails and resolution-friendly Keto snacks. We’re also witnessing an increase in brand mindfulness, as the cultural shifts of 2020 make their way into consumer purchasing decisions in the grocery aisles.”

Without further ado, here’s Instacart’s 2021 Grocery Trends Report.

SPICING UP THE PANTRY

If home chefs learned anything this year, it’s that a well-stocked pantry can open up a lot of culinary doors. When asked about their kitchen routines, more than a third of Americans (34%) say they rarely prep meals and try to make the most of their meals from what’s in the fridge or pantry, suggesting they like to improvise in the kitchen and make most of their meals from what they have — rather than relying on elaborate meal prepping and planning.

Early data reveals that in 2021, consumers might be spicing up their standard pantry meals. More than one in five Americans (21%) say they’ve been more adventurous with home cooking by introducing exotic spices and new flavors into their cooking this year. And Instacart sales data shows no sign of that slowing down. Spice-forward ingredients saw big gains this year, and we expect consumers to keep adding flavors from across the globe to their carts in 2021.

Take a look at some of the bold flavor favorites that are primed to pop next year:

These flavorful spices and condiments have seen big gains in year-over-year sales

“2021 is shaping up to be a flavorful year. Consumers are looking for quick and easy ways to spice up the meals they’ve been making at home, and we’re seeing a lot of interest in handcrafted shelf-stable sauces and spice blends on the Instacart marketplace.“ — Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s Trends Expert and Senior Product Manager.

Additionally, we spotted two cult favorites that Americans are reaching for to boost the taste and texture of their meals: anchovies and fancy, foodie-approved mayo.

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