In March 2020, Harris Williams and Encore Consumer Capital began tracking the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and beverage sector. As that report discusses, an initial wave of stockpiling resulted in significant growth across all food and beverage retail departments.
Our combined team has now evaluated the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on the sector. The key highlights include:
- Since the onset of the pandemic, the frozen department has experienced the most sales growth, continuing to increase by more than 15% year-over-year in the most recent period.
- Within frozen, sales of plant-based meat alternatives grew by 29% year-over-year, while breakfast foods grew by 20%; frozen and refrigerated meat, poultry and seafood sales increased by 18%; and frozen desserts grew by 17%.
- In terms of the refrigerated department, plant-based meat and tofu have been the two fastest growing categories. In addition, refrigerated pasta and pizza sauces have experienced more than 20% year-over-year growth. However, in general, consumer demand for frozen entrées has outpaced that of refrigerated entrées due to the longer shelf-life of frozen products.
- Within the shelf-stable grocery department, food ingredients used in at-home meal preparation have experienced the most sustained growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, including seasonings; condiments, dressings, and marinades; baking mixes, ingredients, and flour; and oils and vinegars.
Get the full details on these and other insights related to consumer food and beverage consumption during COVID-19.