Based on search term popularity, Instacart predicts 2017 will see more ‘delicious ways to ditch dairy’

Searches for Califia Farms' plant-milk creamers on Instacart went up 228% year-over-year ending Dec 2016.

Ice cream cravings among shoppers on the online service Instacart are strong—the brand topped Instacart’s trending brands of 2016 list, with a 919% increase of searches year-over-year ending December 2016.

“Healthy snack items had a big year. From ‘healthy ice cream’ brand Halo Top [to] RXBARs, which saw a 716% increase in searches, people want to indulge without the guilt,” Rebecca Silliman, head of communications for Instacart, told FoodNavigator-USA.

The company, which crowd sources ‘personal shoppers’ to fetch, purchase, and deliver groceries to the app’s users (similar to Uber and Lyft’s concept for taxi service) examined the changes in Instacart user behaviour by comparing year-over-year changes in the popularity of various search terms, and compiled it in a list to predict upcoming grocery trends in 2017. (Click HERE to see Instacart's infographic).

Instacart said that the data set is composed of millions of searchers from consumers spread over the 18 US states in which Instacart operates, though they can’t disclose data on the exact number of users or web traffic.

Instacar's top 5 trending brands

Brands that gained the most search momentum in 2016, which Instacart predicts we’ll see more of in 2017, are:

  1. Halo Top (searches up 919% in calendar year 2016) – “Touting just 240 calories per pint, this ‘healthy ice cream’ definitely caught people’s eye”
  2. New Barn (searches up 737%) – “New Barn’s almond milk products help people ditch the dairy”
  3. RXBAR (searchers up 716%) – “People clearly love simple. RXBARs can fit their ingredients on the front of the packaging”
  4. Simple Mills (searches up 634%) – “Simple Mills’ baking mixes are gluten-, soy-, and gum-free. They are also non-GMO and paleo friendly.
  5. Harvest Snaps (searches up 509%) – “These snacks, made of snap peas, lentils, and black beans, are low-carb, high-protein, and gluten-free.”

Ditching dairy

But at the same time a dairy ice cream brand topped the list of most popular brands, there’s been a significant rise of dairy alternative searches on the platform. “When it comes to grocery trends in 2017, one trend we predict will continue to fill up shopping carts is more delicious alternatives to dairy,” Silliman said.

Instacart’s data revealed that the term ‘non-dairy’ was up 222% in the same time frame, while searches for ‘non-dairy ice cream’ and ‘dairy-free creamer’ were up 228% and 213% respectively. The top brands in this category included NadaMoo!, ice cream made from coconut milk that enjoyed a 371% increase of searches, followed by almond based dairy-free brand Kite Hill, which went up by 362%.

“Keep an eye on nut-based yogurts (Forager Cashew Yogurt, for example) and Daiya, makers of vegan cheese, which has a reputation for capturing the taste and texture of traditional cheese; we may see these brands crack our top 10 list next year,” Silliman added.

Gluten-free here to stay?

The obvious free-from claim contender of 2016’s was gluten-free. “General searches such as ‘gluten-free snacks,’ ‘gluten-free hot dog buns’ and ‘gluten-free crackers,’ cracked the list of top trends in 2016,” Silliman said.

“We [predict] that the gluten-free craze is here to stay - at least for a while. Since gluten-free ingredients like almond and flaxseed flour are readily available now and mixes make baking easy, we predict we’ll see even more people branching out from pre-made gluten-free items in 2017 and instead making their own treats.”

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