After weeks at home, retailers are reporting that purchasers are abandoning sugar-free alternatives in favor of comfort food items. Snack brands like Frito-Lay, Pringles, and Herrs are, for the most part, observing unexpected increases in sales.
According to a recent Forbes article, Americans are turning to comfort goods to get through COVID-19. In March 2020, consumers purchased roughly 50% more salty snack food items than they did during the same time last year. Potato chips, pretzels, and popcorn sales increased by 30%, 47%, and 48%, respectively.
Let's look at recent food trends and how your business can leverage the resurgence of comfort food items.
Comfort Food Items First
Large food brands like Kraft Heinz and J.M. Smucker, who were previously struggling to adjust to Americans’ aversion to processed foods, have a reason to celebrate. As the coronavirus shutdowns persist across the U.S., customers are turning to old staples that they may not have enjoyed in years due to a prioritization of health over shelf-life.
In fact, sales of natural greens and whole food items have plummeted as shoppers opt for frozen pizzas and canned foods. Campbell’s Soup, for example, which had seen consistent decreases in soup sales over the past two years, has had to increase production to meet demand.
Brands We Can Love Again
Kraft Heinz had become less desirable with shoppers in recent years due to the popularization of healthier lifestyle choices. According to Refrigerated & Frozen Foods Magazine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a resurgence in the brand’s macaroni and cheese sales.
The recent increase in demand for comfort food items gives food brands a chance to turn first-time customers into long-lasting ones. By offering food items that are more desirable and viable during a time when shelves are bare, they are cementing their places in our pantries and building brand loyalty.
For some, buying comfort food items is an emotional response sparked by the stress of the pandemic. Buyers are choosing products that elicit feelings of comfort and can serve as their own source of vending machine goodies while they are away from the office and working from home.
Food Items to Satisfy Demand
Acclaimed for their robot-made cheeseburgers, Creator in San Francisco is putting their tech expertise to use during COVID-19. First, visitors place their orders by phone or intercom. Then, a self-sanitizing conveyor surface carries the meals through a pressurized transfer chamber to the customer – no human contact needed.
Humble community pastry shops – such as Beascakes Bakery and Breads in Armonk, N.Y.; Hannah's Bakery and Cafe in Salem, N.H.; and Cookies by Lori in Grapevine, Texas – are changing the way they sell treats. Now, bakeries are selling their baked goods in packs with icing and sprinkles so consumers can decorate their own.
Likewise, pizza joints are coming up with innovative ways to sell food. Some pizzerias are selling boxes of fresh, prepared dough, cheese, and sauce for customers to take home and assemble themselves. Renata in Portland, Ore., known for its handcrafted pasta and wood-fired pizza, immediately sold out of its DIY pizza kits.
Comfort Foods & the Future
Comfort foods are inarguably making their comeback during the coronavirus pandemic. Recent trends suggest that customers are attracted to innovative presentations of old favorites – like DIY pizza kits, for example.
To hop on the comfort-foods trend, leverage your marketing and social media platforms to promote your fun, new offerings. By adapting your products to serve your patrons, you can provide them with a sense of comfort during challenging times like COVID-19.
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