May 12, 2020
Now that we’re all sheltering in place, convenient and soothing comfort foods—like hot dogs, soup, and macaroni and cheese—are outselling the healthy options that prevailed pre-pandemic, Axios reports. Kimchi and kale? Not so much.
In fact, a lot of the foods that were trending at the beginning of this year—the plant-based meat substitutes, low-alcohol/no-alcohol drinks, and products billed as organic or sustainable—are not on our radar anymore,.
It’s back to the 1950s and 1960s, as frozen foods (vegetables, pizzas, entrees) enjoy historic sales increases, while canned goods and processed foods (soups, beans, tomato sauce) have been flying off of supermarket shelves.
And, Axios notes, meal kits are king:
- Among people who can afford it, meal kits are enjoying a renaissance (reviving the fortunes of companies like Blue Apron).
- Restaurant chains like Shake Shack and Chick-fil-A even are introducing meal kits of their own, so people can get the ingredients needed to make their favorite dishes delivered—and the stores can recoup some lost sales.
- Companies trying this include Denny’s, Panera Bread, and Just Salad, per the Wall Street Journal.
- Denny’s Complete Breakfast Meal Kit, for example, “serves four to six and contains bacon strips, eggs, milk, biscuits or English muffins, grapes, strawberries, assorted jelly packets, and Signature Diner Blend Coffee with a variety of sweeteners,” per Progressive Grocer.
On the beverage side, the “sober curious” consumers who made “Dry January” such a big thing this year have been drowned out by the bored and anxious, who are driving up booze sales, quaffing “quarantinis” and hoisting Corona beer during Zoom happy hours.
By the same token, dairy, once villainized, is making a comeback. “It’s a complete protein, and it’s calming to the senses,” Badaracco says. “Whether it’s ice cream or cheese or butter—it’s comfort food.”
Faux meats — plant-based foods that are eaten primarily by non-vegetarians — have lost steam during the pandemic, and that trend will continue, Badaracco says. Even with a national meat shortage, she thinks people will seek out alternative sources of protein, like legumes, rather than imitation burgers.
“COVID-19 will push meat eaters back to animal protein at an accelerated pace, while vegetarians will celebrate plants being plants,” she predicted in an interview with the online news outlet.
And “sustainability sales,” which include organic foods, will continue to decelerate “due to cost, not desire,” Badaracco says.
Research contact: @axios