Instacart talks return of on-the-go convenience and viral food trends

“In a nutshell, 2021 was a back-to-normal(ish) year for groceries with the addition of social media food culture as an influencing mainstay,”​ said Instacart in its 2021 Year in Groceries report.

The report​ was based on an online survey of 2,013 US adult consumers conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Instacart between November 11 -15, 2021.

Kicking off 2021, many consumers still took refuge in their home kitchens, experimenting with new recipes and viral TikTok food trends. But as life started to return to a pre-pandemic normal as the year progressed, grocery shopping habits shifted and shoppers started purchasing convenient, on-the-go foods once again, noted Instacart.

Trending items

Instacart noted a re-emergence of convenient, on-the-go, and easy prep grocery items. 

Gemelli pasta (+457%), cereal bars (+193%), prepared sandwiches and wraps (+94%), frozen French toast (+86%), and energy drinks (+62%) were among the top trending items in the past year compared to 2020, according to Instacart’s data on online grocery orders.

On the flip side, items that reflected many pandemic consumption habits fell in order frequency, including yeast (-57%), all-purpose flour (-51%), and hand sanitizer. 

Kids snacks, a benchmark for normalcy

Tracking quintessential kids’ lunchbox snacks (granola bars, pudding packs, and fruit snacks) is a strong indicator that consumers and households are on the move again, noted Instacart.

“Shopping behaviors around kids’ snacks are some of the most stable and predictable that we see across all of our grocery data — they’re not at the mercy of trends and therefore give us a wonderfully clear benchmark for ‘normal,'”​ noted Instacart in its research.