The stay-at-home orders states have put in place to help contain the spread of the coronavirus have reshaped just about every part of our lives, including how we shop for groceries and what we may or may not find on the shelves. In this episode of The Daily Check-In, Goldman Sachs’ Ben Frost, head of mergers and acquisitions in the consumer retail group, runs through some of the changes that have grabbed headlines (like toilet paper), and as well as those that haven’t (like a 50-year food trend that reversed almost overnight).
Among those changes are where we eat. “The biggest change that I think people are curious about, because it has so many implications both from an employment perspective and from a food perspective, is there’s been this 50-year trend where people have eaten more out of home and less in home…this has dramatically shifted in the last month or two,” he says.
But it’s not the only one. Frost notes that another shift is what we eat, and specifically, the type of foods consumers are buying for their at-home meals. Until recently, shoppers had been gravitating toward fresh food (or at least food that seems healthier). Since the shutdowns, he says “that’s been turned on its head” and people have been plumbing the inner aisles looking for shelf-stable standbys like rice, soup and pasta. This pull to grocery store’s inner sections has also sparked some nostalgia, and Frost says customers are “remembering what we ate as children or what we’ve liked for years and years and [returning] to some of these historic brands that have been around forever.”
How permanent these changes are isn’t clear, and Frost says that while the everybody-eats-at home trend isn’t going to hold, “there’s at least some view that it may not go back to exactly where it was” and it’s a shift (or lack of a shift) that is worth keeping an eye on.
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