Skip to content

This Is the Reason You're Not Finding Out About New Grocery Store Foods

And it all has to do with the grocery store perk you miss the most.

What's the number one thing you miss about normal life, that is, aside from various forms of entertainment such as going to the movies, dining out in large groups, and going to bars? Some may even just miss simple pleasures, like having the chance to sample new foods during their weekly outing to the grocery store. In fact, the absence of free food samples may be the reason why you haven't diversified your shopping list.

Prior to the pandemic, in between walking up and down the aisles, did you enjoy taking a pause from scratching items off your list to briefly chat with the product demonstrator who was preparing samples for everyone to enjoy? Oftentimes, that's how you would discover a new food you love. Those interactions are invaluable to both the consumer and to the up-and-coming food brand trying to stand out in a heavily saturated market. (Related: Costco Suspending Free Food Samples Amid Coronavirus Outbreak).

Since shoppers, in most grocery stores, haven't been able to try bite-size portions of anything from cheese to small cups of granola from local distributors, they may not be as apt to purchase them. Lately, grocery stores have been removing items that aren't reeling in as many sales as some of the more popular ones. In which case, new and small food brands aren't even getting the chance to grab consumers' attention at retail stores.

Eater interviewed the president of Molli Sauces, Rodrigo Salas, who said, "We've lost about 30 percent of our sales since we started seeing the effects [of the pandemic] here in America." He partially attributes the drop in sales to not having the ability to offer samples in stores, as that's largely how he differentiated his company's products from thousands of other competitors in the store.

In fact, even large companies are have temporarily done away with less popular, more obscure items in grocery stores. For example, at the beginning of the summer, Mondelez began scaling back on the distribution of non-traditional Oreo flavors—such as red velvet and birthday cake—and increased production of its classic original flavor since, at the time, that was the product highest in demand.

Thankfully, a few big-name stores are making strides to reintroduce free food samples. Costco recently announced samples are returning in stores, however, there's a bit of a twist. Shoppers will no longer be allowed to sample the food at the station they're prepared at. Instead, those interested in trying the product will be given free packaged dry goods to take home to replicate the sample at home. The person handing out the to-go samples will only be allowed to demonstrate how to make the food, not serve it. And of course, there will be a plexiglass barrier separating the demonstrator from the shopper.

It's not the same, but it is a safe way to slowly bring food samples back into grocery stores so you stay up-to-date on new products hitting the shelves. For more, check out The Best and Worst Frozen Foods at Costco.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne