Things You'll See in Every Grocery Store This Year, Say Experts
Grocery shopping in 2021 was defined by supply chain woes that caused price increases, shipping delays, and shortages. In the midst of it all, more consumers shopped online, and supermarket chains unveiled major policy changes.
While the act of walking into your local grocery store, grabbing a cart, and picking out the items on your shopping list is virtually the same as it was in January 2021, things may be completely different 365 days from now. Here are some predictions of what you'll see in every grocery store this year.
Say hello to smart carts.
The original smart cart was introduced to grocery stores by Amazon in 2020. The Dash Cart, which tracks all of the items you put into it and automatically charges you once you leave the store, is available to use at the rapidly expanding Amazon Fresh chain.
Other grocery companies are taking note, and they're rolling out their own versions of this new technology. For example, Albertsons and Kroger are testing smart carts in partnership with a tech startup called Vevve, according to Business Insider.
Another model, from Instacart's newly acquired AI company Caper Inc., can also scan, weigh, and display what's inside. It helps shoppers navigate the store and recommends products based on what gets added to the cart, per Supermarket News. Instacart plans to integrate the new technology with its own mobile app.
While traditional shopping carts won't likely be replaced entirely by smart carts in the next 12 months, there will probably be additional consumer tests and models popping up at more and more supermarkets across the country.
More security at stores.
The past year was a tumultuous one for grocery stores and grocery workers. Between shutdowns due to COVID-19, shoppers not following store mask policies, and other major safety events, don't be surprised if supermarkets introduce additional security measures. In fact, one chain just announced a step in that direction.
"As part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the health and safety of both its customers and employees, Hy-Vee is introducing its new Hy-Vee retail security team to retail stores across its eight-state region," the grocery chain said in a Dec. 29, 2021 press release.
The announcement added that team members would come from law enforcement backgrounds and be on duty during store operating hours. They will be trained to defuse situations and "equipped to protect the safety of both Hy-Vee customers and employees."
Related: To get all of the latest grocery store news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!
Prices will continue to go up.
Pantry staples like eggs, meat, and milk have surged in price since the start of the pandemic. Ongoing supply chain issues, coupled with climate abnormalities and labor shortages, are impacting the total on your grocery bill right now. Overall, food prices will increase 5% during the first half of the year, research firm IRI predicts.
Kraft Heinz—the company that makes beloved items such as Capri Sun, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Ore-Ida, and Velveeta—is planning to raise price tags on products like Grey Poupon and Jell-O up to 20%, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Campbell Soup Co. is also moving to increase prices, as is Mondelez International Inc., the manufacturer of Chips Ahoy!, Oreo, Ritz, and Wheat Thins.
Bottom line: Shoppers can expect to see rising food costs continue into 2022. For more information, check out 6 Grocery Items That Will Surge in Price This Year, Experts Say.
More plant-based items on grocery store shelves.
Back in October, Whole Foods unveiled its food trends forecast for 2022. The popular grocery chain predicted that reducetarianism would be on the rise, or "reducing consumption of meat, dairy and eggs without cutting them out completely." It added that shoppers could expect to see more plant-flavored items like hibiscus cider, moringa mint chocolate chip ice cream, turmeric cereal, and all things sunflower seeds.
This last prediction is already coming true, with salads, snacks, and other grocery items involving sunflower seeds becoming popular as a result of viral TikTok videos and recipes. Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board Member Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, says the rise of this ingredient is a good thing, thanks to all of the health benefits it offers.
"[They] are high in healthy fats, plant compounds, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. They also contain some plant protein," Young says. "They may help to decrease inflammation, and chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes."
For more on what's happening at your neighborhood supermarket, check out: