COVID-19 shifted the majority of consumer demand from foodservice to retail and with that change came a renewed interest in cooking from scratch.
“If you’re a chicken brand, think about the number of people who are now working and cooking more meals from home. Breakfast and lunch become much more important,” Chris DuBois, senior vice president and principal, IRI, explained during a May 28 webinar, COVID-19 impact: Global poultry and egg purchases behavior. “The companies who can figure out how to communicate with consumers about ways to make these meals exciting will do extremely well over the next two years.”
More family moments at home
“Consumers are cooking more from scratch. On Amazon and other online retailers, sales of Instant Pots, air fryers and other cooking equipment have skyrocketed. Over the last few months, consumers have put these tools to good use and become much more adept at cooking from home,” DuBois said.
“Retailers have been pushing for ways to create more family moments at home, but the reality is that all of us have had to do it during the pandemic.”
These family moments even extend to holidays. Approximately two in five consumers eat out for Mother’s Day, according to the National Restaurant Association. In 2020, retail meat sales saw a 40.6% gain that week when consumers brought the celebrations home.
Biggest change in breakfast and lunch
Not surprisingly, the biggest consumer behavioral changes have been seen during breakfast and lunch. Many people who used to pick up breakfast and lunch while at work, or kids who used to eat these meals at school, now eat at home, prompting increased creativity in how they prepare these meals.
“People are eating more eggs. When people are working from home and kids are studying from home, breakfast becomes a very different occasion,” DuBois noted. “This is a great time to focus marketing efforts on new buyers. There are 17 million new egg buyers out there that hadn’t been there previously.”
Will these changes last?
There has been a lot of discussion about which COVID-19 consumer behavioral changes will last beyond the pandemic. Increased interest in at home cooking looks like a trend that is here to stay.
“People are cooking more from scratch. This is a function of the recession. This is a function of new behavior. It’s a function of people buying new equipment that allows them to be successful. Whether it’s because people are working from home more or because they’ve had a positive experience, every data point from surveys to sales points to this being a long-lasting behavior,” DuBois concluded.
View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
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