As the year comes to a close, it’s a good time to see what consumers have been adding to their shopping carts and plan for 2017. Many of the year’s grocery trends have been fueled by consumers’ desire to do things quicker—without compromising on quality. As a result, more and more consumers are turning to quick-and-easy meal solutions, ready-to-drink beverages and other items that save time in the kitchen.
Ready-to-drink tea and coffee experienced tremendous sales growth (19.5% and 14.6% respectively), as these options allow consumers to skip the drive-through and in-store lineups while still getting their daily caffeine fixes. On-the-go meals direct from the grocery store continued to capture the attention of Americans this year, and the growth of the “grocerant” is in full swing across the U.S., offering more than just your typical salad bar. Grocerants span the dining atmosphere, featuring everything from prepared meals to eat-on-the-go to upscale in-store dining. And sales from grocerants are climbing, with sushi alone posting growth of 16.4% in 2015. But it's not just the fresh section that is reaping the ready-to-eat meal benefits. Lunch combinations (pre-made lunch options like sandwiches, snacks and cheese and cracker kits) are helping the center of store continue its growth trajectory by offering simple meal solutions for children and adults alike.
While many consumers are picking up meals to go, others are just looking for ways to save time on food prep. Value-added fruits and vegetables (e.g., pre-cut, pre-seasoned, side dishes and food trays) also generated exceptional growth, locking in sales growth of 9.4% and 8.9%, respectively. Prepared meat is also helping busy consumers get a jump-start on meals at home, cutting down preparation and cooking time, leaving only side dishes to prepare.
From both the center of the store and the perimeter, here are the top growth grocery categories that captured America’s attention in 2016 and generated steep dollar sales increases.