Many of the trends in fresh in the past year as well as the emerging perimeter trends of today are a direct result of consumers cooking more at home.
“People came into their own with cooking during the pandemic,” says Parker. “They embraced this romantic notion of making meals at home and also of things like smoking meats and making other types of food that take time to prepare. We had walked away from them as a society, but in 2020 we fell in love with them again.”
In produce, home cooking drove sales of a variety of fruits and vegetables, including fresh herbs, which saw dollar sales climb 11.7% over the previous year and 32.6% over three years ago. As consumers gained confidence in their cooking skills, they ventured into more-expensive and exotic meats (sales of lamb are up 18.9%) and a wider variety of seafood. In bakery, shoppers looked for better breads and rolls to accompany thoughtfully made home-cooked meals.
And while consumers will likely continue to prepare more dishes at home than they did prior to the pandemic, they are eager for a change of pace in what and how they eat.
“We’re tired of cooking from scratch,” asserts Parker, who sees new trends emerging, such as a return to healthier foods and a convenience resurgence. “Convenience wasn’t top of mind in 2020, but oh, my gosh, is it top of mind in 2021, because we are meal-fatigued. In 2020, people also weren’t thinking about their waistlines as much, and that’s why the average American gained two pounds a month in the pandemic. This year, even though we’re extremely worried about the Delta variant and there’s still uncertainty about offices and schools reclosing, we’re tired of cooking, and we want to eat a little heathier, so trends like salad and seafood—those are things people are coming to because there’s a health halo and because they want to feel good about what they’re eating at home.”