2020 was a year of significant change for the retail industry, with many adaptations expected to remain permanent fixtures in how the grocery retail space operates as the pandemic evolves. Much of this change has occurred at the grocery retail level with COVID closures and restrictions fundamentally changing consumer shopping behaviour. As grocery retailers continue to adapt, consumer trends will play a critical role in dictating what retailers should keep top-of-mind in 2021.
1. Shopping local
With small businesses across Canada being some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, the shop local movement has become more prevalent. According to a report from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), 97 per cent of consumers buy local to help support the local economy and 45 per cent made an effort to buy Canadian products in the past year. While more Canadians are consciously trying to shop local, those with U.S. or non-Canadian based products, like peanut butter, may worry about their product sales; however, the shop local movement could actually increase Canadians’ exposure to U.S. products, like peanuts. Most Canadian-produced peanut butters, like Fatso or NudeFood Peanut Butters, are made with 100 per cent U.S. peanuts.
2. Growth in seamless grocery e-commerce
The grocery e-commerce industry in Canada was slowly growing prior to the pandemic, however, lockdowns and stay-home orders accelerated this growth in 2020, making grocery e-commerce a main-stay for 2021. According to Statistics Canada, e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, signifying a 2.3 per cent increase over April, and a 99.3 per cent increase over February. In 2021, grocery retailers should look towards implementing e-commerce and diversifying their channels online to capitalize on this growth.
3. Surge in plant-based alternatives
The surge in popularity of plant-based products isn’t just for vegans or vegetarians. In fact, 40 per cent of Canadians say they are open to reducing their meat consumption. In 2020, this category exploded, surpassing the traditional veggie burger and almond milk products with plant-based egg and seafood alternatives. Furthermore, the plant-based alternatives market is estimated to reach US$220 million in 2022 – a US$100 million increase since 2015. More traditional meat alternatives, like peanuts and peanut butter, are affordable, versatile and delicious options for consumers looking to increase their consumption of plant-based protein.
4. Brands and products that are ethical, transparent, and sustainable
According to food marketing firm Braque, transparency will be the number one food and grocery trend for 2021. In fact, a 2020 Innova Market Insights study found three out of five consumers said they would like to learn more about the food they eat and how it’s made. Similarly, 52 per cent of consumers said they would likely avoid doing business with a company if they didn’t align with their values. Top transparency issues for consumers in 2021 will are concerns, human or animal welfare, supply chain transparency and sustainable sourcing. Fortunately, peanuts and natural peanut butters meet this consumer demand as a naturally sustainable crop.