Lovers of greens are turning over a new leaf. Kale has slipped in popularity and spinach is climbing back up the charts. The romance with romaine is as healthy as ever despite a spate of tainted bundles of the Caesar salad and lettuce-wrap essential. From the produce wall to the supermarket cooler, keeping tabs on consumer preferences can help you improve sales.

Excellence Industries Courting Consumers in 2020: Getting Them to Say "I Do"

Notably, a large segment of the population prefers organic food – though many say it’s too expensive. Similarly, shoppers are starting to ask if the beef is grass-fed and if the chickens had free rein of the pasture.

Consumers want to know if the fish they buy were sustainably sourced or farmed. And there are those looking toward the future, not the farm, as they realize the “Impossible Dream” of engineered, plant-based burgers aimed at eco-conscious meat lovers.

Learn what else is hot right now and has consumers beating down the grocery door.

A Walk Down the Aisle: What’s Trending

In a 2018 survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), 36% of respondents reported following a special diet, representing an increase of over two and a half times from the previous year. The 2019 IFIC survey showed an uptick to 38% of consumers that follow special diets from “clean eating” to paleo to Mediterranean and more.

Never before has “being on a diet” meant so many different things, all of which shape shopping lists and attitudes toward your displays and labels. Eggs used to be “bad for us” but now egg sales are up and the number of discerning buyers willing to pay more for eggs from chickens that roam free is on the rise.

Now, it seems that carbs are seen as the bad actors unless they’re the right shape or form – and then only in moderation. As increasing numbers of shoppers avoid grains, one brand that makes its tortillas and chips without any wheat, corn, or other grains has raised $90 million.

Gluten-Free is More Than a Fling

Speaking of grains, according to Niall McCarthy, the number of individuals in the U.S. going gluten-free tripled between 2009 and 2017. Gluten-free demand has defied its status as a “fad” as supermarkets and restaurants seek to accommodate these customers.

The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), an organization that certifies companies and products as gluten-free, certified 10,000 products in 2010. As of November 2019, GIG has certified 63,794 products worldwide and anticipates 8-10% growth in the next five years, with the U. S. as its largest market.

Gluten-free is also compatible with the tenets of popular styles of eating like paleo and keto. Demand is expected to grow for gluten-free quick foods like pizza and soups that people can find in a convenience store or supermarket cooler to heat and eat in a hurry.

Something Old, Something New

A decade ago, sauerkraut could be found on the grocery store shelf in a dusty can. You might have enjoyed it on a hotdog at the ballpark, and once upon a time, your great grandmother might have lined a pantry shelf with homemade jars of it.

Fast-forward to today and Americans are learning to love their digestive tracts by consuming a new wave of fermented foods and beverages. In the 60s, the U.S. began to embrace yogurt, which started as a healthy food “sold by prescription through pharmacies.”

Now it’s the grocer who’s the primary supplier of yogurt – and all other up-and-coming fermented foods – to the masses. For instance, kombucha is crowding the supermarket cooler and restaurants are selling it on tap.

Whether it’s kombucha, kimchi, or kraut, “Fermentation has suddenly gone from a relic of yesteryear to a massive food trend,” says Lizzy Saxe, Forbes contributor and futuristic foodie.

Plant-Based Romance

Americans are breaking up with milk as they opt for plant-based alternatives. An article in Fast Company reports that “the market for plant-based foods and beverages has grown at a dizzying pace. The global dairy alternatives market size was estimated at $11.9 billion in 2017, and analysts believe the market will exceed $34 billion by 2024.”

These facts won’t surprise anyone who’s walked past the array of milk alternatives in the supermarket cooler or on the menu at Starbucks.

Excellence Industries Courting Consumers in 2020: Getting Them to Say "I Do"

It’s not just milk, though. Kroger is rolling out a 60 store launch of a pea-based meatless burger with plans to add another 50 plant-based products from its organic “Simple Truth” brand in 2020.

The appeal of plant-based protein extends beyond vegans and vegetarians. Many people are interested in food they deem healthier to eat. Cauliflower is now pizza crust. Zucchini squash is now noodles. And bananas are chips.

A growing number of consumers also believe that shifting to plant-based eating is healthier for the environment and the planet, overall. An article in Reportlinker predicts plant-based protein to grow at a CAGR of over 8% between 2019 and 2025.

Shoppers Who Don’t Want to Walk Down the Aisle

Shoppers may want their food raised like it “used to be” – with hands-on labor-intensive practices – but they seem to have less time or inclination to do their own shopping. Meal kit delivery services are delivering more than food now; they’re delivering profits for their companies.

More and more shoppers are tapping out their orders online before zipping off and into a designated parking spot where their yogurt, almond milk, gluten-free pizza, and laundry soap is loaded up in double-time.

But they needn’t go to the store at all. Grocery chains like Publix have their own apps that allow for grocery pre-ordering and delivery. The popular delivery service Instacart is available to over 85% of U.S. households and “sees 2020 as ‘the year of grocery pickup.’”

People shop for groceries in person, on average, 1.5 times per week. Yet urban consumers are twice as likely to grocery shop online. FMI and Nielsen predict annual online grocery spend is expected to hit $100 billion by 2022 – or $850 a year per U.S. household.

Making the Supermarket Cooler to Woo Shoppers

Even as there are fewer small farms to fulfill the wish of customers for food grown a different way (e.g. pastured beef and organic veggies), one grocery chain has been listening closely. Aldi, founded in 1945 in Essen, Germany and the parent company of Trader Joe’s, is set to go all-in by offering 100% organic pesticide-free food in 2020.

Another competitor, Kroger, is bringing freshness to a new level as they partner with the German company Infarm to bring modular, vertical farms into some stores.

Other trends to watch for that are predicted to start trending this year include:

  • The acceleration of private label and premium rollouts – like Kroger’s Simple Truth and Private Select brands.
  • Micro-fulfillment centers
  • Consolidated retail apps
  • In-store health centers
  • In-store dining
  • Artificial intelligence that’s better at determining customer preferences.

Innovations to make the shopping experience easier, more integrated, and more attractive are in no shortage as businesses vie to keep up.

Stay tuned to our blog for what’s happening in the diverse retail space while we continue to keep things fresh in your supermarket cooler. Have questions about these ground-breaking trends? Leave us a comment below.

Published with StoryChief