- More than half of consumers (55%) are eating at home more frequently since the pandemic began, but not everyone is enjoying this new approach to mealtime, according to a new report by sales and marketing agency Acosta. Of those eating at home, 25% are tired of having to cook more frequently while 35% have developed a newfound passion for cooking.
- Overall, 11% of people are eating breakfast more frequently at home every day compared to before the pandemic. Dinnertime is the second most common meal to occur at home with 12% more people saying they partake in home-cooked fare daily. Lunch is eaten at home every day by 13% more individuals.
- Acosta determined the biggest challenge shoppers reported as a result of more at-home meals were grocery shopping due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19 (45%), coming up with different meal ideas every day (40%), lacking the necessary ingredients (38%) and improving cooking skills (17%).
Since 2015, foodservice has surpassed sales for retail food and beverage. However, that trend came to an abrupt halt this spring when the pandemic hit. “Now, even the best-case scenario for foodservice will end the year in the red,” Colin Stewart, executive vice president of business intelligence at Acosta, said in the release.
Now, the home kitchen is seeing a resurgence with at least a third of people eating at home for all three meals. This push has provided a major tailwind for retail food sales. In March alone, grocery store sales jumped 29.3% compared to the same time period in 2019. Sales remained elevated on a year-over-year basis into June, with the industry posting a sales gain of 11.7% compared to June 2019 as consumers remained heavily reliant on supermarkets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it comes to shopping, the International Food Information Council estimated about one in five consumers reported making healthier shopping choices with functional ingredients being a top priority. About half of those surveyed said they are eating less healthy.
These patterns have bolstered sales for many legacy brands that are able to provide both better-for-you and indulgent options. Comparing the last four weeks of this year's second quarter with the same time last year, Bank of America analysts found large growth rates for many CPGs such as Campbell Soup, whose sales were up 25.6%, Hormel with an increase of 38.2%, Conagra where sales rose 30.5% and Kraft Heinz where sales jumped 24.7%.
But while legacy brands are experiencing a resurgence, consumers also are interested in innovation to keep meals interesting. Of those consumers cooking at home, a Mattson survey indicated 39% will be looking for new products as soon as the system returns to normal.
Mattson noted it has done its own research among consumers, and 58% said they will immediately be ready to purchase new products. As the Acosta data shows, people are getting tired of cooking at home so new offerings are key to keeping people excited — and maintaining interest in the practice as more restaurants open up —while helping companies build brand loyalty for the long term.
Successful brands will need to provide products that are a good value, which a Mattson survey indicated will be a top trend. These brands also will need to adapt and innovate to align with trends such as e-commerce. Stewart said Acosta predicted online food and alcohol spending to increase 30% this year. With that in mind, Acosta noted that distribution and presentation of products will be a major opportunity for manufacturers in the new normal.
Acosta said manufacturers should not only work on saving consumers time cooking but focus on packaging “chef-forward ideas” and foodservice brand collaborations as an opportunity to provide inspiration and dine-in quality experiences to consumers. For many people, having additional inspiration in the kitchen will be a welcome sight for those who enjoy cooking as well as individuals who are struggling to remain creative as the pandemic drag on.