Much of our coverage of the coronavirus and its impact on the produce industry has focused on the science or the foodservice industry:
As foodservice became limited to take-out and delivery, and consumers feared further restrictions, we saw retail boom for a while. Although the big boom was in specific things such as sanitizer, cleaning supplies, etc., there was quite a substantial boom in canned goods and other items that people wanted to stock up on.
Fresh produce at retail, though, also saw a boom as consumers were in retail stores stocking up, and this boom particularly emphasized storage crops such as potatoes.
Our friends at 210 Analytics, IRI and PMA did a study that showed an increase in produce sales of 34.5% on the week of March 15th! Although we won’t likely see increases like that again, even the week of March 29th showed an increase of 8.1%. Obviously as long as restaurants are closed, we can expect retail sales to be up.
Although growers and distributors who focus on foodservice have been hurt horribly — and there was a short term boost for retail — it is uncertain what the short- and medium-term impact will be of all this.
Many consumers have had someone in their household lose a job. Perhaps they will want to eat the canned soup and other products they stocked up on in fear. Even after things open, we can’t be sure what consumers will be thinking. Will they want to eat at restaurants? Will they be afraid to get too close to other patrons?
We reached out to some of our friends in retail and asked them to share their thoughts and experience with the broader industry. It is a generous act on the part of these individuals and their companies to do so, and we thank them.
Below are comments from:
We appreciate the contributions made by these individuals and their companies. We will have more to follow soon.