Baking & Snack - June 2020 - 20

CONSUMER MYTHBUSTING

Americans rediscover
cooking at home

69%
37%
31%

of consumers are preparing
more meals now.
are creating more meals from
scratch vs. before the pandemic.

of consumers are eating
more treats this week vs.
the prior week to reduce stress or
bring some joy into their day.

Source: IRI's weekly COVID-19 survey for the week of April 12

Hale LLC, during a webinar sponsored by the American
Bakers Association.
Overall, the amount of packaged bread sold in March
alone resulted in an absolute dollar growth of $194 million compared with March 2019. Mr. Hale called it "an
amazing turnaround," especially when he contrasted
that jump to last year's total performance for sandwich
bread sales. For the entire year, they actually fell $40 million for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 28, 2019.
"When you look at the top-selling categories in
March, you have to call out sandwich bread," Mr. Hale
said. "Let's face it. It's not been a category that has been
delivering strong results."
Sandwich bread wasn't the lone benefactor from the
bounty of binge-buying. Cracker sales rose $195 million
in March compared with previous four-week period last
year - or nearly as much as the $227 million for all of
2019. Cookie sales leaped $144 million in March compared with notching a $127 million upswing for the entire previous year.
Keep in mind that these numbers reflect the sales
growth of mega categories that range from $5 to $7 billion annually at retail, where a double-digit percentage
hike hasn't been seen in decades. And yes, those dollar
increases are huge compared with what the gluten-free,
keto and other perceived better-for-you categories often
see in a year.
Throughout retail, the empty shelves weren't limited
to the bread aisle. Frozen pizza, refrigerated dough,
soups and flour disclosed another myth that the center
of the store is where brands go to die.
"This may be the biggest quick take from COVID-19,"
said Tom Vierhile, vice president, strategic insights,
North America, Innova Market Insights. "The center
store is not dead, and consumers are seeing packaged

20 Baking & Snack June 2020 / www.bakingbusiness.com

foods in a new light. With household budgets facing
unbelievable strain right now, center-store products are
now seen as 'save the day' products."
Food companies, he added, are getting a rare opportunity to showcase to consumers that today's packaged
food products are not like the ones they recall from decades ago.
"Quality has improved, and these products now deserve a second look," Mr. Vierhile said. "Worries over
food waste are also helping consumers see these products in a new light."
The center-aisle shift was on everyone's radar. Sally
Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader for IRI, noted the ongoing hike in retail sales since
March shows that the middle of the store is hardly moribund, and growth isn't difficult to find anymore.
"Everyone is preparing more meals at home, thus
driving more center-store sales," Ms. Lyons Wyatt explained. "Snacking continues as well, which helps
boost sales."
Julie Miller Jones, member of the GFF Scientific
Advisory Board, pointed out the empty shelves debunked the myth that people think processed foods
are bad.
"Our need for pantries filled with staple foods that we
can rely on has shown the importance of processed food
in keeping our families nourished even during times
of crisis," said Ms. Miller Jones, a distinguished scholar and professor emeritus, foods and nutrition, for St.
Catherine University. "Choosing processed foods as we
shelter-in-place is critical."

"THIS MAY BE THE
BIGGEST QUICK TAKE
FROM COVID-19. THE
CENTER STORE IS NOT
DEAD, AND CONSUMERS
ARE SEEING PACKAGED
FOODS IN A NEW LIGHT."
Tom Vierhile, Innova Market Insights
Cereal was another grain-based food that had been
demonized and put out to pasture.
"The myth is that millennials killed breakfast cereal,"
said Jennifer Mapes-Christ, manager of food research
for Packaged Facts. "People still like cereal, and they
have been buying it."
Jessica Cristadoro, president and CEO of The Vivid


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Baking & Snack - June 2020

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Baking & Snack - June 2020 - 1
Baking & Snack - June 2020 - 1
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