Supermarket Perimeter - August 2020 - 11

W

RICKA_KINAMOTO - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

hen COVID-19 sent its first shock waves
through the United States, consumers
were quick to throw out the healthy eating
habits that were exploding pre-pandemic.
A recent study released by Port Washington, N.Y.based NPD Group, Snack Food Behaviors in Challenging
Times, found that snack food consumption increased
8% in April 2020, and snacking occasions increased by
about 4% for the average consumer.
It's also important to note that not only did the start of
the pandemic expand snacking habits, it moved healthier
options to the backseat as savory and sweet snacks took
over the market.
"Consumers are telling us that one of the concerns
that are rising during this time period is stress eating,"
said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry
analyst. "When you've got the snack bowl right in front
of you, especially in these stressful times, snack foods
can actually act like stress relief for many consumers.
We've seen a lot of changes happen, and it looks like
health has been on a little bit of a pause."
In the 13 weeks leading up to June 13, data released
by New York-based Nielsen showed that total salty snack
consumption increased by 19.4% compared to the same
timeframe in 2019 and sweet snack consumption went
up by 16.1%.
Sweet and salty snacks like chips, candies and
desserts can quickly add on the pounds, especially for
those confined to their homes for both work and play
for weeks on end. Several months into the pandemic,
consumers are noticing the not-so-wanted weight gain.
In May, Web MD reported that more than half a million
Facebook users were engaging with terms around
quarantine weight gain and coining a new term: The
Quarantine 15.
""The 'Freshman 15' is typically paralleled with fun -
you've gone off to school by yourself, no parents, you
just want to party," Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian at the
Cleveland Clinic, told Web MD. "What we're experiencing,
on the other hand, has nothing fun about it. Plus, if a
substantial number of people emerge from quarantine
having gained a lot of weight, it could have a significant
effect on public health."
A survey released by Philadelphia-based Nutrisystem
in July found that 76% of the 2,000 American
respondents to the survey reported gaining up to 16
pounds during quarantine, and 63% reported that rather
than focusing on getting their 'summer body' in shape,
they're focusing on getting a post-quarantine body.

How consumers regulate wellness with
snacking habits
Consumers manage their health and wellness through
eating habits in three main approaches, said Shelley

Balanko, senior vice president of Bellevue, Wash.-based
The Hartman Group:
x Regulate and rationalize - this is where a lot of
health and wellness perimeter food eating comes in.
In this approach consumers focus on healthy eating
and following specific diets.
x Intuit and interpret - still has quite a bit of fresh,
perimeter food but there's also more processed food
in this mindset. In this approach consumers choose
what to eat based on how it makes them feel.
x Retreat and regroup - this is the stage in which
consumers decide to take a break from health and
wellness eating, and avoid the typical rules they set
around eating and snacking habits.
"Early in COVID, we saw a lot of retreat and regroup
and now we're starting to see consumers go back to
regulate and rationalize," Balanko said. "They're going to
be doubling down on healthy eating now because the
pandemic has shown a spotlight on the tenuous nature
of our own personal health, as well as public health."
Balanko added that consumers are going back to their
commonsense and typical food philosophies, which
for the last decade have been prioritizing fresh, real,
less-processed perimeter foods. She predicted that in the
long term, consumers are really going to be searching
out snack foods that have higher nutrient density.

Pre-COVID-19 trends coming back strong
Moving forward, the same direction consumers were
headed before COVID-19 hit is going to become even
more relevant, Balanko noted.
"Consumers just have this dawning awareness of
public health concerns in particular, the health of
workers associated with animal agriculture and food
production," she said. "So that is also shifting consumers
toward more conscious and ethical consumption. These
trends that were established pre-COVID are gaining
traction because of the ripple effect of COVID."
Convenience is another factor that has remained top
of mind. While it may seem like consumers have more
time on their hands while they're spending more time
at home than ever before, that hasn't really been the
case. For individuals working at home and taking care
of children or other family members, the busy schedule
has simply moved from out of the home to in the home.
When choosing a snack, Balanko said consumers will still
go for what's easy - pre-packaged, ready-to-eat out of
the container or bag items. Other trends that will start
to rise back up in the next few months are plant-based
alternatives and environmentally sustainable products,
Balanko predicted.
"All of those things are coming together in consumers'
minds: it's healthier for me, healthier for others, more
ethical and more sustainable."
www.supermarketperimeter.com

CONTRIBUTING
FACTORS OF THE
QUARANTINE 15

+8%
+4%

Snack food consumption,
April 2020

Snacking occasions,
April 2020
The NPD Group

AUGUST 2020 - 11


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Supermarket Perimeter - August 2020

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Supermarket Perimeter - August 2020 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2020 - 1
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