Confirming a trend of some years’ standing, many of the products chosen as 2021 Editors’ Picks proudly touted their short ingredient lists, stressing their commitment to uncomplicated recipes and to quality over quantity. For some items, like Ark Foods Clean Label Salads, that brand proposition was in the name, while others contented themselves with providing their bona fides in their entry descriptions.
These products, which spanned a wide range of categories — the frozen department, with Nubocha Dairy Free Gelato; the refrigerated case, with Vital Farms Pasture-Raised Egg Bites; the snack aisle, with Pipcorn Heirloom Snack Crunchies; the baking section, with LusOasis’ pancake and waffle mixes; and even the health, beauty and wellness offerings, with Topco’s TopCare Mineral Continuous Spray Sunscreen, to name just a few — received a big boost from consumers preoccupied with optimal health amid a lingering pandemic, but make no mistake: Simpler formulations, crafted with “real,” easy-to-pronounce ingredients, are here to stay.
The most popular of those ingredients was — also in line with a huge trend of the past few years —plant protein, as evidenced by the dozens of items boasting one or more types of this coveted attribute. Entries that won over our editorial judges included American Flatbread Meatless Evolution Plant-Based Pizza, Blount’s Family Kitchen Plant-Based Chili, Bubbies Vegan Mochi Ice Cream, plant milk products from Califia Farms and newcomer NotMilk, Eat the Change Organic Mushroom Jerky, Nasoya Plantspired Breakfast Scramble Superfood Skillet, PlantBoss Meatless Crumbles, RightRice Risotto, Seapoint Farms Mighty Lil’ Lentils, and more.
Meanwhile, keto- and Paleo-friendly products continued to provide lower-carb versions of such consumer favorites as ice cream, cookies, breakfast food, baking mixes, sweeteners, nutrition bars and meat snacks.
Another key ongoing trend noted by Progressive Grocer editors was the growing contingent of private-brand products from the likes of Lidl, Schnucks and, as mentioned earlier, Topco. As own-brand penetration rises in the United States, these items offer price-conscious shoppers affordable on-trend innovation across the store.
In 2021, PG’s editorial team sifted through a record number of submissions to arrive at 100-plus Editors’ Picks, which can be found below.