Consumer Buying Habits Shifting as a Result of COVID-19 – How Has This Impacted Your Business?

Since Covid-19 hit the US in late February, our lives have been impacted in many ways.  Researchers have set out to understand the impact the virus has had on the Food and Beverage industries.  How has consumer demand and buying habits changed over the past couple of months?  Researchers have weighed in, and they all seem to agree: Consumers are stocking their pantries and eating at home.  Their research indicates that may be the trend for months to come.

What does the research show?

In a recent study conducted by Suzy and A New Hope Network, prior to Covid-19, about 50% of all food was consumed via food service.  Since March, there has been a shift of nearly all of that to in-home consumption through grocery retail.  The research farther stated that 42% of their respondents have reported that they are approaching meal planning differently, 50% reporting that they make their decisions based on longevity – what will last long in the freezer or pantry.   Within the past two weeks, 50% of respondents reported they ate more frozen foods than they had prior to Covid-19, and 46% reported they ate more boxed or canned goods in the same time frame.
As small quarantines began and borders closed more broadly, Nielsen research echoed these sentiments.  Their studies indicated a rise in ordering take out and in food delivery, but most notably in eating and cooking at home.  Their studies further indicated a spike in grocery store visits, a larger in-store spend, and a stockpiling of pantry items as the virus took hold of our Nation.  According to research released by Nielsen, April 17, 2020,  there has been a large percentage of growth particularly in shelf-stable and frozen fruits and vegetables.

In the Suzy/New Hope Network Study, 41% of consumers indicated they expect to spend more on food services, grocery visits, and online ordering in the next 60 days.  Neilsen research indicated consumers think Covid-19 will last 4-6 months.

How has the shift in consumer buying habits impacted your business?

With the change in buying habits likely to continue over the next several months, are there new opportunities for you to meet consumer demand?  What challenges are is your business facing as we work through this crisis?  How can food and beverage manufacturers do to meet the changing market? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

For more information on the impacts of Covid19, and the research conducted by Suzy,  visit the Suzy Consumer Insights Hub.

Download “The Future Of Grocery Shopping in Uncertain Times.” 

See the Nielsen report here.

The Transition to a Virtual IFT – What Should You Expect from ShIFT 2020?

Touted as “the place where movers and advancers of the food industry come together,” the IFT Annual Event and Expo is an event many of us look forward to every year.  With thousands of ingredients and exhibitors on hand to demonstrate the industry’s latest innovations and emerging trends, the event is a must for those of us who want to stay on the leading edge of the industry.

This year is going to be a new experience for everyone!    In an effort to keep all exhibitors and participants safe during the Covid-19 epidemic, the IFT Board of Directors has made the decision to transition this year’s event to a “virtual experience.”

Organizers are confident there will still be a lot to look forward to. Following best practices of other virtual events, IFT organizers are excited to show what they can do.  In a recent interview with Food Dive.com, IFT CEO Christie Tarantino-Dean explained, “Our membership and attendee base are innovators, right? One of the great things for working for an organization like IFT … is that we get to work for innovators, and they give us the space to innovate as well. So we’re excited to show what we can do, and work with our community to really change how we do business, and use this as an opportunity to think a little bit differently.”

Attendees will still need to pay for the conference, though the price and packages are not yet determined. (Tarantino-Dean said there were close to 2,000 attendees already registered when the event was changed to be completely virtual.) All of the presentations, sessions and awards that were scheduled will still happen. There will be networking possibilities. And, she said, there will still be a trade show floor.

While IFT acknowledges that the move to a virtual environment will pose a unique set of challenges, it also provides unique opportunities.  For instance, taste testing the wonderful samples that are provided across the show floor is probably not going to be possible, so companies are looking at new and improved ways to provide samples, usage examples, and have ramped up product demos online to participants and potential customers.   (Many reporst show that since the Covid-19 epidemic took hold in the US, Zoom conferences have soared as companies look to provide similar personal experiences while maintaining social distancing standards.)

Virtual booths will allow company representatives to introduce new products, provide technical information, show videos of what the product can do, and connect with participants via several technologies.

Additionally, Tarantino-Dean indicated that the symposia and sessions will be available on-demand for a longer period of time this year, making it easier for people to participate without time constraints.

The new virtual format may also prove to be easier for students attending the show, as well.  Bob Roberts, head of Penn State University’s Department of Food Science, told Food Dive that about 30 to 50 students from his program go to IFT each year.

Roberts said, the virtual model is likely going to be easier on students than most other groups who attend IFT. Today’s college students are accustomed to virtual learning. Most are doing it now, since the coronavirus pandemic has closed most universities for the remainder of the spring semester.

An added bonus is that it’s also much easier on students’ bank accounts. While there will still be a fee to attend, nobody will have to travel or pay for room and board.

Details of the virtual format are still developing.  IFT has created a webpage for participants and exhibitors to get answers to their questions, watch IFT President Pam Coleman’s update on the decision to move to a virtual environment, and subscribe to updates as the become available.  Visit the page here.

Read the Food Dive article here.

Tate & Lyle Introduces CLARIA® EVERLAST Clean-label Starch with Freeze Thaw Stability

Recently, Tate & Lyle introduced a new addition to its CLARIA® Clean Label Starches line.  CLARIA® EVERLAST delivers shelf stability that helps preserve food quality in extreme conditions.

The ingredient manufacturer’s recent press release points to an increasing consumer demand for cleaner labels in segments that would benefit from Claria EVERLAST, specifically mentioning sauces, frozen baked goods, and yogurt and chilled soups.  “The introduction of CLARIA EVERLAST® complements the line by solving the formulation challenges related to refrigerated and freeze thaw stability in these categories.”

CLARIA® EVERLAST labels simply as “corn or tapioca,” starch, and is Non-GMO.

Get more CLARIA® EVERLAST information here.

For more information about the Tate & Lyle Products Skidmore handles, contact your Skidmore representative.