America's largest grocery store chain shares the items that saw the most sales growth.

By Mike Pomranz
December 21, 2020
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Kroger, which owns around two dozen brands on top of its eponymous supermarkets, is America’s largest grocery store chain. So to truly understand the changes in Americans’ shopping habits this year, Kroger’s year-end top ten trending foods is a useful resource.

According to the company, they looked strictly at year-over-year sales growth across their nearly 2,800 stores to create a list that is extremely stark in its realism. Nothing overly niche like oxtail or ginger water. In fact, the item that saw its sales increase the most from 2019 to 2020 was (drumroll) … zero-calorie soft drinks.

Credit: Getty Images / Tetra images RF

And since we’re saving calories on soda, we apparently sought them out elsewhere. The remainder of the top five is, in order: four-cheese Mexican blend shredded cheese, flavored potato chips (hot and spicy, regional flavors, and meal-inspired varieties), Sauvignon Blanc wine, and heavy whipping cream. Wine, chips, cheese, and heavy desserts? Yeah, that feels like 2020 alright.

Things take a turn at number six. Fresh burger patties saw a big boost over the past year, probably as people do more cooking at home. Though baking bread was a top trend during the pandemic, apparently people weren’t making their own burger buns: Artisan breads and restaurant-style buns were Kroger’s seventh top trending food.

And speaking of spending more time at home, the eighth item on the list certainly fits that bill: Bulk individual coffee pods (96-count) saw a big surge in 2020 for pretty obvious reasons. Party-size bags of variety chocolate also made the list at number nine—perhaps because instead of stealing chocolates from our coworkers, we’re building up our own snack stash at home.

The tenth and final item on the list was black forest ham—with Kroger suggesting that deli meats in general got a boost as we added more sandwiches to our stuck-at-home diets.

“The most-popular foods and beverages of 2020 underscore how our customers not only adapted to the challenges of this unique year but embraced cooking and eating at home as part of their new routine,” Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant, said in the announcement. “As many of our customers transitioned to working from home and virtual schoolrooms this year, coffee, fresh deli meat and artisan bread emerged as go-to staples for elevated breakfast and lunch routines, while zero-calorie soft drinks, unique potato chip flavors, wine and chocolate stood out as comfort-food favorites.”

So what does 2021 hold? Kroger has some thoughts, writing that functional foods, innovative items, and comfort foods will continue to gain popularity. But you know what? After 2020 brought us renewed interested in, yes, shredded cheese, I’d prefer not to jinx things and think about the future. At the very least, maybe we should hold off looking ahead until we see how these vaccines go?