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Packaged foods consumption pace reaccelerates


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NEW YORK — Even though many states have been lifting restrictions on restaurants and social distancing, the pace of packaged foods consumption remains well above the same period a year ago and in some cases is reaccelerating.

Credit Suisse in a packaged foods research update issued June 22 cited data gathered by Catalina indicating that packaged foods consumption in the week ended June 20 was up an average of 20% from the same period a year ago and compared with the prior week’s 10% pace.

“We think the reacceleration demonstrates that consumers continue to eat more of their meals at home even though state governments have been lifting restrictions on restaurants and social distancing,” Robert Moskow, research analyst at Credit Suisse, wrote in the report. “Anecdotally, small bars and restaurants in Florida have been forced to close once more after outbreaks of COVID-19 cases began to resurface in recent weeks. We expect weekly grocery trends to be quite volatile in the weeks ahead as COVID-related headlines dominate news flow.  We expect above-normal growth rates in our packaged foods group to persist in the second half of 2020.”

Credit Suisse said grocery sales showed sharp gains in the three biggest states with rising COVID-19 infection rates, with Florida rising to 16% from 3%, Texas jumping to 41% from 30%, and California climbing to 18% from 8%.

Flour was among the categories picking up the pace over the past week, as sales in the week ended June 20 were up 44% from a year ago (compared with up 31% a week earlier), according to data from Catalina. Meanwhile, salts/seasonings were up 50% in the most recent week, which compared with 35% a week earlier, and condiments and sauces reaccelerated to 30% from 20%. Canned vegetables sales were up 25% in the week ended June 20, which compared with 8% growth in the previous week, Catalina said.

“We think these categories have a stronger long-term growth profile now that consumers have developed stronger cooking skills while spending more time at home,” Mr. Moskow noted in the report.

Mr. Moskow identified packaged food companies B&G Foods, Inc. and McCormick & Co., Inc. as “winners” in the current environment, saying the companies’ sales “continue to grow at a faster pace than the group average because their portfolios are indexed to cooking-at-home categories.”

In addition, Kraft Heinz Co. has experienced stronger-than-normal demand in its cheese and sliced meat categories due to the increase in at-home lunch occasions, he said.

On the flip side, pet food and yogurt continue to underperform other categories, Mr. Moskow said. Pet food sales have been virtually flat, and yogurt sales are up only 4% since March 21, Mr. Moskow said citing Catalina data. Both categories did show some improvement in the most recent week, though, with pet food up 5% (compared with 0% growth the previous week) and yogurt up 4% (compared with a decline of 2% the previous week) in the week ended June 20.

Mr. Moskow said Catalina data also indicated only 4% growth in the cereal category, but he added “we view our Nielsen data (category growth of 20% for the 4 weeks ending 5/16) as more representative of the true sales trends.”

Catalina data is comprised of a “retailer-balanced panel of over 20,000 stores in the Catalina network, comparing current week vs. same week year ago on a per-store basis.”

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Author: Usama Younus

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