Will Americans keep snacking at higher levels post-lockdown?

Discussion
Photo: @beachbumledford via Twenty20
Jun 25, 2020
Dale Buss

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the bi-monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

Americans snacked their way through COVID-19 lockdowns as idle time, boredom and family togetherness hit all-time highs. All categories of snacks experienced higher consumption with traditional “comfort” foods gaining the most.

“People are tense and nervous during the pandemic, so they go for comfort foods,” said Libby Mapes, VP of strategy and insights for AMC Global, a research firm that focuses on launch strategies and brand tracking. “People are working from home, and they have access to their kitchen more — so that makes it easier to snack more often. Or people are home and not working, and in that environment makes it easier for them to grab something.”

Consumer packaged goods companies were realizing an “incredible bump to their business” in two ways, according to Greg Wank, practice leader in food and beverage for Anchin, a consulting firm. “In conventional channels, there was a hoarding phase in March and April, particularly, where people were just worried about where they were getting food from and buying more than they needed, and they were buying stuff that was shelf-stable. That helped snacks.”

And second, in a phenomenon whose full flourishing came during the pandemic, online sales of snacks exploded as well.

The fact that COVID-19 is expected to remain part of American life and society for months or even years to come is one big reason Mr. Wank and others believe that, while traditional and even junk food snacks outperformed healthier foods during the second quarter, the long-term migration toward more nutritious snacks will continue as the stresses and strains of the pandemic ease and life begins a march toward greater normality.

“You still have all those educated consumers who aren’t going to abandon all of their good habits,” Mr. Wank said. “Healthy is still thriving despite perhaps a little more [relative] demand for comfort. People haven’t forsaken the healthy side of snacking just because they bought a tube of Pringle’s to feel better.”

Another factor, Mr. Wank said, is that U.S. retailers are “continuing to devote more shelf space to better-for-you and healthier products. That’s accelerating.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will COVID-19 slow the momentum towards healthy snacking? What do you see as the obvious and less obvious factors driving the comfort food resurgence amid the pandemic and are they likely to remain when it’s over?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Looking ahead, I see permissible indulgence categories – those products which include some benefits or goodness with a treat like chocolate – doing well."
"Comfort food is an easy go-to category – but I’m seeing the opposite. Consider the hockey stick increase in sales for sports equipment and related products..."
"I suspect even though some groups are doing healthy living at home, based on their social media posts, significant numbers are choosing comfort."

Join the Discussion!

8 Comments on "Will Americans keep snacking at higher levels post-lockdown?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

There is still good growth in the health and wellness segment of food and snacks, however there is also no doubt that sales of more indulgent options have accelerated during the pandemic. I suspect that the trend will continue for some time, especially if people continue to work from home – which tends to result in more snacking! Looking ahead, I see permissible indulgence categories – those products which include some benefits or goodness with a treat like chocolate – doing well.

David Leibowitz
BrainTrust

PepsiCo certainly thinks so. They launched two DTC channels last month which I covered here (one is called Snacks.com):

Comfort food is an easy go-to category – but I’m seeing the opposite. Consider the hockey stick increase in sales for sports equipment and related products – people are working out more. That’s also the reason why you now have to wait in line for 30 days if you want a quality bike.

Similarly there has been an uptick in the fresh category at grocery. People are eating meals with healthy fruits and vegetables. And those crock pots and bread and pasta machines flying off the shelves? That’s so families can prepare foods with ingredients they know.

If anything, I see more healthy lifestyle changes.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

How about something similar to the post-holiday stampede to the gym? People realize they need to do a little course correcting and self-improvement resolutions kick in. But wait — the gym may or may not be regarded as a “safe” solution. And if it’s safe, is the workout routine now too much of a hassle? So maybe there is an opportunity for at-home health solutions that jump to the top of the list. A Zoom workout after all those Zoom conference calls? Actually, the gym isn’t looking like such a hassle after all.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Snacking has dramatically increased and I believe that trend will continue. A lot of businesses have decided to extend or make permanent work-from-home — so guess what, snacking is king. Here is an opportunity for companies to introduce more healthy options (although a few Oreos once in a while is not a bad thing).

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

The trend of people snacking more heavily may decline over time, but it will not be a quick transition. Snacking is far easier to do in the privacy of your home than in the office. The products you like are right there in your cupboard and there are far fewer people to pass judgment on your consumption. It is not likely to change significantly until people go back to working in an office, whenever that may be.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Sure some people feel sorry for themselves, feel lazy, and/or have less disposable income to invest in healthier alternatives. Less-healthy snack products were never doing poorly, and this crisis has only strengthened the category’s success. I see this lasting for a long time — or until salt and sugar are determined to cause immediate death. 😉

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Another example of how people are dividing into two groups. One group is chasing snacks while the other realizes they need more healthy food and exercise to maintain their wellness while spending more time at home. There is room for both, and hopefully a balanced middle zone. For many, those “unhealthy” snacks will become a more regular treat in a post-pandemic world, but I do expect we will go back to pre-pandemic wellness levels as the desire for fitness and “getting healthy” will keep gaining momentum across all groups.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

I think as COVID-19 goes into the second wave (based on the rise of cases we are seeing and hospitalization rate) we are going to continue to see indulgent snacking and comfort food remain strong. I suspect even though some groups are doing healthy living at home, based on their social media posts, significant numbers are choosing comfort.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Looking ahead, I see permissible indulgence categories – those products which include some benefits or goodness with a treat like chocolate – doing well."
"Comfort food is an easy go-to category – but I’m seeing the opposite. Consider the hockey stick increase in sales for sports equipment and related products..."
"I suspect even though some groups are doing healthy living at home, based on their social media posts, significant numbers are choosing comfort."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is COVID-19 to slow the sales growth of healthier packaged snacks?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...