Will Americans keep snacking at higher levels post-lockdown?
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?