The Trends Instacart Thinks Changed Food Forever

Last Thursday marked the 10-year anniversary of the debut of Instacart, the online grocery shopping app that got its start offering convenient home delivery from just a few partners and today marketing goods from more than 750 companies across more than 70,000 stores. Selling all those groceries gives the brand incredible insight into what shoppers in the United States and Canada are buying, and, over the past decade, Instacart has seen many a food trend come and go.

In a blog post, Instacart took a look at the top 10 food trends that have "influenced our palates and changed the way we eat," ranging from hard seltzers to nut milks. But the number one trend cited in the post is that of sparkling water, which really took off in 2016 with the rise of La Croix, and whose popularity Instacart called "undoubtedly the biggest grocery trend to rock our carts and quench our thirst." Today, Instacart reported, the company delivers 129 times the amount of sparkling water as compared to seltzer sales in 2013.

TikTok ingredients, avocados, and cauliflower everything

Curious about the other food trends the grocery shopping app Instacart cited as among the most important of the past 10 years? Right up there at the top of its list is the video sharing app TikTok, whose food videos on how to make everything from shredded chicken to avocado toast tend to go super-viral. Instacart noted that when such recipe videos get popular, their main ingredients tend to show up in shoppers' baskets almost immediately — so much so that earlier this year, Instacart added a Shoppable Recipe tool to TikTok, where users can go straight from the video over to Instacart to order the needed ingredients (via Marketing Dive).

Another commonality the company noticed? Consumer passion for — and specificity about — avocados, the creamy guacamole staple we all seem to love. The blog post reported that over the past decade, Instacart has logged five million shopper instructions about what type of avocados to send in the order, ranging from an uber-specific "please try to find almost ripe, but not yet ripe, but not yet soft" to a curt "ripe af, pls and thx."

Another ingredient trend Instacart shared was a consumer love of cauliflower, that crucifer beloved for its ability to morph into low-carb pizza crust, "rice," and mashed "potatoes," to name a few iterations. The company noted that cauliflower sales have grown by a whopping 194% since April 2013.

Sriracha, soy milk, and (hard) seltzer, please

Among the other trends the grocery shopping app Instacart detailed in its 10-year roundup included shoppers' affinities for, variously, hot sauces, plant-based milks, and hard seltzers. The company's data reveals that hot sauce is the most popular condiment purchase made by Americans in large cities, with Instacart delivering more than a million gallons since it got its start: Enough hot sauce to fill nearly 47,000 kiddie pools, to put it in the terms shared in the blog post. Huy Fong Sriracha is America's top hot sauce, the most-purchased in 31 states, with Frank's RedHot taking second place as the top purchase in 14 states.

All that spicy food needs to be cooled down with a sipper, and that sipper, for Instacart shoppers, has been hard seltzers. Since 2016, when alcoholic carbonated waters such as those from Smirnoff and Mighty Swell became available on the app, sales of the seltzers have gone up by 164%. And for those that like to sip a plant-based milk, Instacart is a good destination for it: The app now offers more than 20 different varieties, ranging from hazelnut to pistachio to oat, with sales of the latter having increased by more than 3,000% over the past four years.