Welcome, 2021!

Welcome, 2021!

Naomi Sleeper
Vice President Continuous Improvement and Strategic Initiatives
Imperial Distributors


This year is finally coming to a close. As we happily say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in a new year, we look at the impact of this past year on the top three expected trends to affect supermarket non-foods in 2021.

At-home cooking: Cooking has been both a necessity and a comforting activity for families stuck at home in 2020. With continued restrictions on indoor dining this season and the long-term closure of many restaurants, families are expected to continue to depend on at-home cooking for their meals in the new year. This means continued demand for kitchen tools, gadgets, appliances and cookware. However, we will likely not see the demand surge in bakeware that we experienced in the beginning of the pandemic. While many families turned to comfort foods and baked goods this past year, home cooking in 2021 is expected to focus more on healthful eating. According to International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food & Health Survey, 43% of Americans were actively dieting in 2020, compared to 38% in 2019. This diet trend is expected to rise further in 2021, as people aim to lose the extra pounds gained from comfort eating, extra snacking and more sedentary lifestyles while at home during the pandemic.

Health, wellness and safety: The health and safety of shoppers will continue to be a priority for supermarkets and shoppers in 2021. As the second wave of the pandemic continues this season, sanitation and PPE supplies, as well as wellness and immunity-boosting supplements, will remain high-demand products. In addition, the expected focus on diet in 2021 means increase in nutrition products, specifically supporting the Keto diet. According to Instacart, sales of products with “Keto” in their name increased by 72% over the past year and are expected to remain high to support shoppers’ weight-loss plans. While self-care has been a growing trend in recent years, the physical, psychological and emotional toll of the pandemic is only increasing this focus. In addition to healthier eating, this could mean an increase in natural products that promote sleep and relaxation, as well.

Online shopping: The skyrocket of online shopping during the pandemic accelerated the need for omnichannel supermarkets. According to Marketer (September, 2020), the number of ecommerce grocery shoppers in the US will have increased by 42% from 2019 to 131 million in 2020, and is expected to continue to grow in the next few years. Online grocery sales increased by about 53% to $89 billion in 2020 and are forecasted to grow to $129 billion, accounting for nearly 10% of total grocery sales, by 2023. This online fulfillment includes BOPIS/curbside pick-up, pickup points, and local delivery, according to Shopify’s consumer survey. Economic challenges in 2020 have encouraged many people to support smaller, local brands and businesses. This means a great opportunity for regional chains and local independent grocery stores to offer ecommerce options for shoppers. Imperial’s direct-to-consumer fulfillment services can help grocery retailers take advantage of this growing trend.

The opportunities for supermarkets in 2021 are significant. As we look toward a post-COVID world, our industry appears stronger than ever.