Celebrations are moving away from foodservice and festivals and back into homes. This creates opportunities for experiential foods in retail. Consumers have more time than before the pandemic, and many have started cooking, creating opportunities in ingredients and cooking concepts. Meanwhile, the economy is facing a big drop in real GDP, potentially leading to a polarisation in assortments towards the extremes – economy and premium – similar to that seen following the 2008 financial crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has directly impacted celebratory eating through the cancellation or forced smaller scale of celebrations around Easter, Eid and US Independence Day, to name a few key holidays, along with birthday celebrations, weddings, baptisms, workplace parties, etc. As social beings, however, consumers will always seek ways to celebrate these occasions.
The impact on global real GDP in 2020 is set to be larger than in the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 crisis carries with it the added complexity of limits on travel and foodservice, meaning much experience-focused eating needs to be satisfied through retail instead. Lessons from 2008 tells us that both the price-focused and experience-focused food find opportunities during a recession.
Both the increase in unemployment and the need for many to work from home will provide consumers with time savings. Consumers may thus have less need for convenience food when it comes to celebrations. Baking was very popular during lockdowns, and the skills acquired remain.
As foodservice suffers, we may see more partnerships between restaurants and retailers. With travel limited, we may expect more product concepts emulating exotic flavours and foreign experiences to enjoy at home.
Summer-focused categories, like chilled processed meat and ice cream, are returning to the same retail SKU counts as in February 2019, while other categories remain streamlined. With some SKUs being found superfluous, brand owners may need to ensure that their ranges are adapted to the new needs of consumers.
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