This Is The Most Popular Grocery Store Item Of 2020, According To Kroger

If you want real insight into what 2020 looked like in households across the United States, you need to see the list Kroger recently published of the top 10 food trends of the year. The list is based on how much a particular product's sales increased from 2019 to 2020. To be totally clear, we're talking about food and beverages here. Otherwise, you'd probably see toilet paper at No 1.

Kroger sells roughly 30,000 different products that are classified as either grocery, adult beverage, or meat and seafood (via ScrapeHero). So Kroger's top 10 trending foods list is truly the cream of the crop.

The list starts with comfort food and transitions to restaurant food substitutes. Coca-Cola suffered steep revenue declines this year due to shutdowns at sports venues and movie theaters (via CBS News), but Coke and Pepsi clearly got a boost at the grocery end of their business. The top grocery trend of 2020 at Kroger stores was zero-calorie soft drinks.

Do you have four-cheese Mexican blend shredded cheese in your refrigerator right now? That was the second biggest food and beverage trend at Kroger this year. Here's the rest of the list, numbers three through 10: flavored potato chips, sauvignon blanc wine, heavy whipping cream, fresh burger patties, artisan breads and restaurant-style buns, bulk individual coffee pods, party-sized bags of chocolate, and black forest ham.

Comfort foods and restaurant-style ingredients made Kroger's top 10 list

Here's how Kroger Chief Merchant Stuart Aitken interpreted the top 10 food trend list: "... [Z]ero-calorie soft drinks, unique potato chip flavors, wine, and chocolate stood out as comfort-food favorites. Fresh ground beef, premium buns, and shredded cheese also rose in popularity as our customers recreated their favorite restaurant-style burgers at home." 

Aitken's take on what people did with these trending grocery items once they got them home sounds about right. But given all the stress 2020 has brought, it also seems reasonable to think that Kroger shoppers dipped flavored potato chips into Mexican-blend cheese and washed it down with diet soda, white wine, and homemade whipped cream.

The big boost in coffee pod sales makes sense, when you look at how far sales at Starbucks locations have fallen in 2020 (via CNBC). We're not sure what accounts for the spike in ham purchases. Clearly, the black forest ham supply chain wasn't disrupted too much by the closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

While looking back on 2020, Kroger also looked ahead to 2021 and made some food trend predictions. For one thing, Kroger expects the home-cooking trend to grow. If they're right, we won't be rushing back to restaurants in a big way. Kroger also expects 2021 to be a big year for mushrooms, environmentally responsible products, and high-tech innovations such as no-cry onions.

Hopefully, we'll all have a lot less to cry about in 2021.