Grocery shoppers can expect to see expanded produce departments, new sections for plant-based food, and more cannabis products in 2020, says John Karolefski, supermarket analyst and purveyor of www.GroceryStories.com.
Karolefski says many grocers will eliminate plastic bags at checkout and blend digital with physical shopping to keep customers and attract new ones.
“Grocers will aim to appeal to shoppers who are gradually moving away from buying processed food and animal-based proteins to fresh foods and plant-based alternatives to meat, milk and other dairy products,” says Karolefski, author of the new book, Zen and the Art of Grocery Shopping.
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Karolefski’s nonconventional trends for 2020 are:
1. Expanded Produce Departments
More retailers will enlarge their produce departments to please health-minded shoppers looking to eat more fresh food. Traditional grocers like Stop & Shop and German discounters Aldi and Lidl are expanding space for fruits and vegetables. Exotic items such as Fuyu Persimmons, Rambutans and Chayote will be added to the produce assortments to add variety and excitement.
2. Plant-Based Sections
Nontraditional protein products will continue to attract fans in the new year. More grocers will flag special sections of the refrigerated case as “Plant-Based” to help shoppers find alternatives to burgers and sausages. More dairy-free yogurts made with coconut cream, soy and almond milk will be added to the refrigerated case. Overall sales of plant-based food increased by double digits in 2019 and are poised to do so again in 2020.
3. Cannabis Goes Mainstream
More stores will stock CBD oils and lotions. Plant extract CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, reportedly provides anti-inflammatory relief and reduced itching for psoriasis and eczema. Also, many progressive grocers will begin selling CBD edibles. Market researcher BDS Analytics says spending on cannabis edibles is expected to grow to $4.1 billion by 2022.
4. RIP for Plastic Bags
Oregon began 2020 by banning plastic bags in stores statewide. Giant Eagle also started the year by eliminating plastic bags at checkout. The Midwest chain is following the lead of Stop & Shop in Connecticut, which eliminated the bags previously. Expect many more grocers to do so in 2020, while encouraging the use of reusable bags and charging for paper bags at checkout.
5. Blending Digital and Physical Shopping
Expect more digital screens and electronic price labels on shelves. Some stores will add augmented reality to the shopping experience. Already, Sam’s Club uses augmented reality to transform members’ digital carts into pirate ships or rocket ships. Giant Food Stores has an augmented reality promotion, Snowflake Search, designed to send kids on scavenger hunts while their parents shop.