Baking & Snack - June 2020 - 21

Team, a food consulting firm, noted that the sudden
need for Americans to feed their families wiped the
shelves clean of all sweet cereal, even from Amazon
Fresh, from which she tried to order.
"Everything else was sold out," she said. "Because my
children were stuck at home and not going to school,
I was feeling bad for them, so I was looking for sugary
cereal, for once, when normally I would have tortured
them and made them eat Kashi. Nothing against Kashi.
They just like sweet cereal more."

Busted by disruption
Ms. Lyons Wyatt called out one myth that emerged during the pandemic: that all purchases in mid-March came
from hoarding.
"Not all," she cautioned. "Many families had to increase food spending because restaurants were closed.
They were not going to a workplace or traveling.
Therefore, all meals and snacks were being consumed
at home."
People were always eating bread. They were just not
buying sliced white sandwich bread and making meals
out of it. The bread they were eating, however, did have
the nutritional equivalent of "white bread." They just
didn't see it that way.
"Most baked products are made with white flour,
but the consumer may not think of them that way,"
Ms. Cochran explained. "They start to define the terms.
'White bread doesn't include a croissant, a baguette,
or the brioche bun or the hoagie roll when I'm eating out. It's only the white bread in the bread aisle, not
even the baguette that I buy.' They have really narrowed
down what the term means in ways that aren't actually accurate."
While sheltered in place, Ms. Cochran suddenly saw
her family, which includes three children, going through
five loaves of bread a week.
"I didn't realize how much bread our children ate," she
said. "There was a big chunk of the day that they were
eating [away from home]. I was paying for it but not
aware of it."
During the initial days of the economy's closing, the
instinctual response by some trend watchers was to flash
back to the Great Recession and comb the archived data
to dig up insights on how consumer trends may play
out for the remainder of 2020. However, as more new
data poured in, it soon became apparent that this year's
playbook would have a much different read with a manmade recession that caused historical unemployment
that had been seen only by those who were young in the
1930s. So much is still unknown with today's unemployment numbers at unprecedented levels, despite government assistance and economic stimulus packages. And it

CONCERNS
OVER FOOD SECURITY EMERGE

While staying at home for several months, Sally
Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice
leader for IRI, noted this pandemic also provided the
consumer trend watchers with what she called the
many "reveals" on how life will change going forward.
In the next five years, the data will show how COVID-19
affected consumer shopping, but without the benefit
of hindsight, there are only a few key insights as
consumers travel through a transitional era.
"The grocery store is essential," Ms. Lyons Wyatt
said, for starters. "Appreciation for the channel and the
value it brings to our lives will continue."
Another reveal, she said, involved the supply chain,
especially after companies temporarily closed meat
and food facilities in response to outbreaks at their
processing plants. It shook consumer confidence, even
just a bit.
"Prior to COVID, a large percentage of consumers
did not think about all the steps involved with the food
they bought, whether in the store or in a restaurant,
but now they do," Ms. Lyons Wyatt said. "Therefore,
transparency and sustainability will be a focus for
more people post the pandemic."
Tom Vierhile, vice president, strategic insights,
North America, Innova Market Insights, suggested
that Americans had taken the availability of food for
granted. It makes sense in a world where breakfast
was available 24 hours a day from the local fast food
joint.
"I'm afraid the biggest myth that seems sure to be
busted over the next month or two is that America has
an endless supply of food," he said. "Supply chains
are currently stretched and what is happening in the
meat and poultry industry virtually guarantees product
shortages going forward. Shortages could spill over
into other areas and already have, such as the shortage
of yeast for consumer baking."
Another shift may be consumers' views on
packaging.
"The 'war on plastic' really heated up in 2019 and
into early 2020, but it seems like a truce has been
declared," Mr. Vierhile said. "There with some cities
and states reversing course and actually banning
reusable bags and going back to plastic. We are in the
process of re-discovering why packaging is important
in the first place -to protect the integrity of a product
and keep consumers safe."

www.bakingbusiness.com / June 2020 Baking & Snack 21


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Baking & Snack - June 2020

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