More Americans put frozen pizza and Oreos on their shopping lists
A “rising tide lifts all boats” situation is playing out in grocery stores across the nation as consumers stay at home to eat in numbers not seen in decades.
At the beginning of 2020, the percentage of food eaten at home and outside the home was equally split, according to a Quartz report based on U.S. Census Bureau data. In March, as restaurants closed and consumers began staying at home to try and curtail the spread of the COVID-19, almost 63 percent of all food and beverages bought in the U.S. was for at-home consumption.
Frozen food brands have been among the beneficiaries of Americans eating at home. The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) reports that the category’s sales jumped 94 percent in mid-March and continued strong into April, with year-over-year gains between 30 and 35 percent.
Eighty-six percent of all consumers purchased a frozen food product in March, according to research conducted by 210 Analytics for the AFFI. Seven percent of consumers who rarely or never purchased frozen foods before the coronavirus outbreak are now doing so.
“This is a tremendous expansion of the category that could have long-term implications,” Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics, said in a statement. “This includes Gen Z buyers, as well as Baby Boomers who left the category during the TV dinner era — returning now to find newer, tastier products.”
Consumers are drawn to the convenience and quality of frozen foods. On a five-point scale, consumers listed convenience (4.3) and quality (4.1) as the primary factors in their purchase decision-making.
Sales of snacks are also doing quite well as Americans stay at home to eat. Mondolez International, the parent company of Oreos and other brands, reported a 6.4 percent organic sales growth rate for the first quarter.
The company’s CEO Dirk Van de Put told CNBC that sales spiked 30 percent as stay-at-home orders were put in place across the country. Even after the initial bump, sales growth remains in the high single-digit area.
“Originally, you would have said this was pantry loading, but this has now been going on for more than six weeks. And unless consumers are building a warehouse for Oreos at home, I think they are eating it,” he said.
- In March, Americans shopped at the grocery store like it was 1996 – Quartz
- New Data Suggests Frozen Food Surge Will Have Longer Shelf Life – American Frozen Food Institute/PRNewswire
- Surge in snack sales is not just ‘pantry loading,’ Mondelez CEO says after earnings beat – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect Americans to continue eating at home in larger numbers post-pandemic than before the outbreak? What will grocers and consumer food brands need to do to build on their recent gains once life returns to a semblance of normal?