The New Year is here and, as we welcome an exciting year ahead of us, several emerging trends and changes concerning the food retail industry are expected to affect how we operate one way or another.
Last year was a very challenging year, but what could be in store for food retailers in 2021? Here are some exciting things we should be expecting this year:
Changes in Refrigeration Regulations
On December 10, 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a groundbreaking and comprehensive program to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Starting in 2022, new equipment with more than 50 lbs. of refrigerant will be required to use a refrigerant with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of less than 150. This new rule will affect commercial and industrial refrigeration units widely used by grocery stores and supermarkets. Other impending refrigeration regulations will help strengthen the drive towards the adoption of natural refrigerants as these alternative refrigerants have 0 or low-GWP.
Emerging Food Trends
Year after year food trends continue to emerge, but the last year has accelerated and redirected many of the food trends for 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has expectedly pushed food trends this year that support overall health such as immune-boosting foods and supplements, organic and sustainable meals, and food with no added/ low sugar.
Online Grocery Shopping Continues
The adoption of online grocery shopping has increased exponentially last year due to consumer fears with leaving their homes to buy their essentials. By 2025, online grocery sales are expected to expand accounting for 21.5% of total U.S. grocery sales according to grocery e-commerce specialist Mercatus and research company Incisiv. This is a wake-up call for retailers to integrate, implement and strengthen their ecommerce platform because the use of online tools such as supermarket apps and websites are here to stay for the long-term.
Omnichannel Shopping Experience is Fundamental
As the pandemic evolves so does the shift in consumer buying behavior. Consumers continue to buy online, in-store, curbside, or through pickup and other methods where convenience and no-touch handling are involved. Omnichannel shopping and strategies are becoming essential and prevalent this year as people continue to seek alternatives whether through their food choices or a consumer’s path-to-purchase.
The New Year calls for a fresh outlook and hope for all of us in the industry, most especially for those retailers who are struggling to keep things afloat. These changes allow us to realign our thoughts and vision for what’s ahead. New food trends, new refrigeration regulations, and a better 2021 — these are only the beginning.