Which groceries were most popular in your city? Report finds top-trending foods of 2021

Consumer Watch

Which foodstuffs were most popular in your neck of the woods? (Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) — Just as our doctors have repeatedly asked us to do, Instacart went ahead and figured out what we’ve all been eating over the past year.

Instacart, an online ordering and delivery platform for groceries, has delved into its data to determine the most common supermarket purchases throughout the U.S., both on national and local levels. In a general sense, the findings indicate a shift away from pandemic-era purchases (hand sanitizers, sanitizing wipes, yeast for baking, etc.) and toward more items that suggest a return to normal buying habits.

It’s worth noting, however, that Instacart’s “Year in Groceries” report is based on data compiled between Jan. 2021 and Nov. 2021, and does not necessarily reflect how our nation’s purchases may have changed in response to the omicron variant’s dominance in the U.S.

Another caveat: the report takes only Instacart delivery purchases into account, and thus presents a limited look at the nation’s grocery-buying habits.

That said, the nation’s fastest-growing grocery items, at least for the majority of 2021, indicated more purchases associated with an on-the-go lifestyle than in 2020. Among them, Americans bought more cereal bars, prepared sandwiches and energy drinks, along with more traditional household staples like Gemelli pasta and frozen French toast.

On a more local level, Instacart’s data determined the hottest purchases in each of over 14,000 U.S. cities, at least relative to the rest of the country. For example, Chicagoans purchased more Thai sweet basil and Sauvignon Blanc compared to other metro regions, while Bostonians bought more canned chickpeas and pesto, among other foods.

In other surprising news, the results from a separate Instacart survey (conducted online by the Harris Poll) seems to indicate that nearly half of the population (44%) have tried out a viral recipe idea after seeing it on TikTok or other social media platforms. Namely, we’ve been attempting to make baked feta pasta, salmon rice bowls or “nature’s cereal,” at least according to the ingredients we’ve been purchasing on Instacart.

Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s trend expert, believes this fad is here to stay in 2022.

“Based on the overwhelming growth of social media food trends this past year, we can expect to see even more viral food moments showing up and influencing the way we meal plan, shop for groceries, and cook in the kitchen. … In particular, we can expect to see new renditions and variations of our favorite comfort foods, including pastas, stews, and casseroles take off especially as we hunker down for the colder winter months ahead,” Romaniuk said.

Of course, it’s always worth consulting a professional medical expert before stuffing too much feta-smothered pasta in your face this winter. After all, your doctor would want to know.

More information from Instacart’s Year in Groceries report can be found at Instacart.com/2021-delivered.

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