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    Healthful Alternatives Rule Instacart 2016 Trends

    Dairy alternatives, gluten-free, paleo-free dominate

    Dairy alternatives, gluten-free offerings, paleo-friendly products and more were the big movers and shakers for 2016, according to Instacart, which said that those categories dominated the list of searches on its website for the year. The San Francisco-based online grocery service believes that its findings could offer a window into what will fill shoppers’ carts in 2017.

    While 2015 saw the domination of flavored sparkling water brand La Croix and the rise of the spiralizer, 2016 saw a surge in healthful ice cream and a distinct interest in more healthful snack options. Brands that gained the biggest search-momentum rises in 2016 include Halo Top (919 percent), a healthful ice cream with just 240 calories per pint; New Barn (737 percent), which offers almond milk products; RXBar (716 percent), a line of protein bars with simple ingredient lists; Simple Mills (634 percent), baking mixes that are free from gluten, soy and gum, as well as non-GMO and Paleo-friendly; and Harvest Snaps (509 percent), low-carb, high-protein and gluten-free crisps made from snap peas, lentils and black beans.

    Turning to categories, dairy alternatives surged in 2016, with yogurts, milks, creamers and frozen treats made with coconut, soy and almond milks seeing a significant uptick in purchases. Additionally, searches for “non-dairy,” “non-dairy ice cream” and “dairy-free creamer” were up 222 percent, 228 percent and 213 percent, respectively. Top individual brands that saw search surges included NadaMoo! (371 percent), an ice cream made from coconut milk; Kite Hill (362 percent), a yogurt made from almond milk; Califia Farms (228 percent), creamers made from plant-based milk; and Coyo (228 percent), yogurt made from coconut milk.

    “2017 will usher in more delicious ways to ditch dairy,” Instacart said. “Keep an eye on nut-based yogurts – Forager Cashew Yogurt, for example – and Daiya, makers of vegan cheese that has a reputation for capturing the taste and texture of traditional cheese.”

    Gluten-free, too, saw a strong rise in searches, with terms such as “gluten-free snacks,” “gluten-free hot dog buns” and “gluten-free crackers” cracking the list of top trends in 2016. Even “gluten-free meatballs” appeared to be in strong demand. Individual brands seeing strong search increases included Banza (343 percent), a pasta made from chickpea flour, and Capello’s (314 percent), a line with gluten- and grain-free items, including pasta, pizza and cookie dough.

    “People will feel compelled to branch out from pre-made gluten-free items in 2017, since gluten-free ingredients, like almond and flaxseed flour, are readily available,” Instacart said. “Also, mixes like those made by Simple Mills make gluten-free baking easy. Rest assured, gluten-free is going strong."

    And although it wasn’t as popular as dairy alternatives or gluten-free offerings in searches, Paleo saw its own share of increased interest in 2016. Searches for “Whole 30,” a popular paleo-based diet, were up 292 percent, while popular staples such as “chicken bone broth” and “grass-fed ground beef” were up 268 percent and 381 percent, respectively.

    “More and more brands will seek out the ‘Whole 30 Approved’ label, following the footsteps of brands like Fatworks Oils and Naked Bacon,” Instacart noted, “and more and more retailers will carry these brands.”

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