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Kroger (KR) on Thursday released its top ten food and beverage items of 2020 — and the results underscore how the coronavirus pandemic has shifted Americans’ food purchasing habits.
The company, which based its results on year-over-year sales growth across its nearly 2,800 retail stores, revealed that zero-calorie soft drinks, shredded cheese and flavored chips were among the top choices for consumers this year.
As lockdowns forced consumers to flood grocery stores across the country, comfort foods and drinks such as party-size chocolate bags, and Sauvignon Blanc wine, also made the list.
“The most popular foods and beverages of 2020 underscore how our customers not only adapted to the challenges of this unique year but embraced cooking and eating at home as part of their new routine,” said Kroger’s chief merchant Stuart Aitken.
“Many of our customers transitioned to working from home and virtual schoolrooms this year,” he added — citing coffee, fresh deli meat and “artisan bread” among the popular food staples Kroger shoppers craved.
‘Futureproof’ and comfort foods
Kroger also unveiled its top seven food predictions for 2021 with “futureproof” and “comfort” items leading next year’s trends, as the pandemic continues to generate headwinds for the global economy.
“Futureproof foods” include products that support immune health, stress management and energy levels, whereas comfort items are typically easy-to-prepare and can often provide a mental escape.
“Many of our customers rediscovered their passion for cooking and baking at home in 2020 and aspire to eat more healthy foods and explore more unique tastes and favorites in the year ahead,” Aitken said.
According to Kroger’s data and analytics subsidiary 84.51°, over 60% of Kroger shoppers are spending more time cooking at home. That trend that “will only accelerate in 2021 as consumers spice up their weekly routines by experimenting with global flavors,” the company said.
Aligning with the push for more creative recipes, 2021 is expected to serve as the “breakout year” for mushrooms, and more plant-based offerings, as consumers embrace eco-friendly choices, the grocery chain revealed.
In fact, 35% of Kroger customers strongly agree that they are more conscience of food waste since the start of COVID-19, and will continue to limit food waste post-pandemic, according to the company.
Finally, expect to see more innovation in the food space next year — from no-cry onions to in-store hydroponic farms — to help keep fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness.
Alexandra is a producer & entertainment correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193