The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be in sight in the United States. Multiple effective vaccines will be available to most Americans by the middle of 2021. As many as 90% may be vaccinated by the end of July 2021.

In this issue of WATT PoultryUSA, you’ll read about how the industry may fare in a post-pandemic world. One important change integrators need to consider is how consumer behaviors may permanently change after the pandemic.

More working from home

COVID-19 closed offices for extended periods. This proved many office jobs can be done remotely and forced consumers who previously dined out daily to eat at home or close to home.

Federal estimates show the number of people working from home will triple in the coming year as attitudes about remote work change. Moreover, some offices will move forward with a hybrid approach with workers splitting time between the office and their homes.

Chris DuBois, senior vice president at IRI leading the company’s protein practice, estimated more than 30 million meals daily will be eaten at home, or close to home, rather than at company cafeterias or urban eateries.

Different cooking techniques

DuBois also noted the average American had to become a more effective cook in 2020. Many consumers found new confidence in the kitchen and discovered they could make restaurant quality meals for much less at home.

During this period, they also tried new cuts of meat and cooking appliances. Air fryers and multicookers, like the Instant Pot, are now a fixture in many American homes. Additionally, shoppers branched out and tried different cuts of meat, DuBois said, as they became more confident chefs.

Going forward, poultry companies will need adjust their plans to serve a consumer that’s spending more time at home and willing to try new things in the kitchen. Product innovation will be key.