During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is noticeable that while some food items are properly stocked during store visits, some items are flying off the shelves and continually low in supply. Forgetting toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies (which are always in short supply), there have been many food products – both branded and private label – that have done extremely well during this period.

Seafood Consumption on the Rise

Seafood, for example, has done extremely well during this period of quarantine. While the food service industry has struggled over the past two months, seafood sales in the retail business have done quite well. People are buying seafood like never before. In fact, according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based marketing research firm, year-over-year sales of both canned and frozen seafood were around 37-percent higher for the month of April. In addition, fresh seafood sales were up 13 percent in the same period.

Frozen Food Gains Popularity

Almost all frozen foods are flourishing during the COVID-19 pandemic in general. Sales of frozen foods have emerged as a growth leader and have doubled over the last month. Sales of frozen protein products of all types (poultry, meat and seafood) have led the way with sales increases ranging between 59 percent and 100 percent for the last month versus the comparable time period of 2019.

Even frozen plant based products have skyrocketed over this period. According to a recent Nielsen report, demand for these products has increased 278 percent since this time last year.

As people have experienced first-hand, the most frequently purchased items were frozen vegetables, protein products and frozen pizza. For the full survey conducted by the American Frozen Food Institute, please click here.

Other Foods in Demand

Other food brands have shown tremendous success in the retail space over the last month but not necessarily through the traditional grocery store channels. Little Debbie snacks, have seen significant success in the e-commerce channels.

“People are looking for fan favorites online, especially Little Debbie since it is a nostalgic brand,” McKee Foods Corporation (which makes Little Debbie) e-Commerce Manager Matt Guider said in a recent article by Forbes. “A lot of people have comforting childhood memories of these brands and are seeking comfort during a troubling time.”

Price Adjustments Coming

Lastly, while retail store sales are increasing due to stay in home orders and initial stockpiling, it may not be all good news for all consumers. JPMorgan analysts said 22 percent of food on store shelves are currently discounted, according to the companies under its coverage, and the average discount is 23 percent. Retail sales would increase 5 percent if all discounts went away. It is anticipated that these discounts will go away in the very near future, which will mean that grocery store prices will be rising.

If you have questions about any of the above topics or other items related to COVID-19, please contact the GHJ Food and Beverage Team to learn more about these trends and how we could assist your business during COVID-19.

Additionally, GHJ’s COVID-19 Response Team has as an experienced team of consultants specializing in cash-flow projections, strategy and operations consulting and re-organizations. We are here to assist organizations to succeed in these very challenging times.

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Donald Snyder

Donald Snyder, CPA, has more than 30 years of experience in public accounting. He provides audit, accounting and advisory services to clients in numerous industries, including food and beverage, restaurant, manufacturing, wholesale/distribution and technology. Donald is a well-known business…Learn More