The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the frailties of the food world and its supply chain.
For many people this has been the first time in their lives they went into our supermarkets and couldn’t buy toilet paper or flour or cow’s milk or their favorite brands and now, the latest shortages – frozen pizza and pepperoni! In some stores many shelves were bare and shoppers felt scared and shocked about the possibilities of having no food to feed their families.
We have a pandemic. We have an economic recession. We have global warming. We have wildfires here in California which have destroyed many farmers and ranchers crops and livestock.
In the face of the uncertainty of just how long the pandemic will last, or if there will be a second wave as is being predicted, it is imperative that the food industry – from farm to fork – prepare strategies for the new future; and understand the concerns, needs and emotions of shoppers. A survey conducted by Acosta found that if the pandemic does again force public lockdowns, 53% of Americans say they will stockpile groceries, hygienic products and school supplies, and that is an increase of 15% of respondents who said they stockpiled at the start of the pandemic
Our supermarkets responded quickly and are trying to meet the needs of adults who are faced with working at home, while tending to the needs of their school aged children - who may be attending classes on line, or have limited school days, or wondering if their schools will even open – all the while trying to balance good eating habits with satisfying their families emotional needs. Forcing a new business model on supermarkets.
The shopping experience has changed dramatically.
According to The Confidence Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey conducted in Q4 2019, that’s pre-COVID-19 - 14% of consumers reported that they were worried about increasing food prices and 68% of consumers said they are cutting back on their food purchases.
The new reality is that shoppers are taking back control and seeking out personalized solutions for themselves and their families as their confidence in the food industry has eroded and will continue to do so the longer the headlines recount stories of farm workers and food processing facilities at vastly reduced levels of production and the continued reports of high numbers of COVID-19 cases and employees quitting or just not showing up for work for fear that they will become ill.