COVID-19 Food & Beverage Retail Market Perspectives: Part One

In uncertain times, a few things remain constant. The demand for food and beverage is undoubtedly among those things.

That is not to suggest that food and beverage consumption has remained static. Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, there have been several significant changes in the way consumers eat and drink, which, among other things, has driven a substantial shift between the foodservice and retail channels. Food and beverage has become a tale of two worlds, with the foodservice channel seeing double-digit declines while the retail channel experiences double-digit growth.

In this new report, senior professionals from the Harris Williams Consumer Group team up with Encore Consumer Capital to share insights from the latest available SPINS® data on food & beverage retail in the U.S. Among the findings:

  • We are through the initial phase of pantry stuffing, during which there were dramatic increases in shelf-stable and frozen categories of ~40% and ~44%% respectively. While growth has slowed for many shelf-stable categories, it has remained strong for frozen foods.
  • In particular, consumer desire for healthy, long-shelf-life food has led to strong growth in frozen fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen and refrigerated plant-based meat alternatives.
  • The shift away from restaurant dining—which may persist for some time—has boosted demand for meat, poultry and seafood, as well as for convenient family meals such as frozen pizzas and family-sized frozen entrees. At the same time, demand has waned for single-serve frozen entrees that are oriented toward lunch meal occasions and are often consumed at work.
  • Stock-outs of national brands in the early stages of the crisis and the current recessionary environment have led to private label growth outperforming branded growth in the frozen, refrigerated and produce departments. Past experience suggests private label repeat purchases will be robust, which will continue to drive strong growth.

Get the full details on these and other insights related to consumer food and beverage consumption during COVID-19 below.

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