2021 Trend Predictions Part 4: Eating At Home

The Lempert Report
October 16, 2020

While the pandemic has increased sales dramatically for grocery chains – it has decimated restaurants.

New eating and food-buying patterns arose from COVID-led disruptions in 2020 - the major change has been the overnight shift to eating at home – not by desire – but by stay at home orders, working from home, closed schools and self quarantining.

While the pandemic has increased sales dramatically for grocery chains – it has decimated restaurants. The National Restaurant Association just reported last week that over 100,000 restaurants in the US have closed permanently.

Employed parents nationwide are trying to balance working and helping to school their kids at home. It’s a lot of pressure on these parents that were already stressed; and this will continue as more major employers tell staff to work remotely such as Google who has closed their offices until mid 2021 - and 10 of the 15 largest school districts in the United States will teach online only in the fall semester.

One long-term impact is Baby-making.  Fewer childbirths during the pandemic will negatively impact the food world and the economy in 2021 and beyond, according to the Brookings Institution, which forecast 300,000 to 500,000 fewer children born in the U.S. next year.  In addition, 34% of women want to delay pregnancy or have fewer children because of the pandemic vs. 17% who feel the opposite, a Guttmacher Institute survey showed.   

According to 84.51°, Kroger’s data science and analytics arm:

  • 51% are cooking and baking more often than before the crisis
  • 40% say they are eating more comfort and indulgent foods
  • 40% of customers say they’ve bought more packaged foods than they usually do
  • 46% of customers say they are snacking more throughout the day.

Many food analysts and the CEOs of grocery retailers and CPG brands are saying that the cooking at home trend is here to stay. I disagree.

When the pandemic started there was little choice. People went online to buy bread making machines, cleared the shelves of flour and baking yeast and decided as a way to occupy time, build family relationships and teach their kids new skills they would focus on cooking from scratch at home. In fact, in the first 5 months of Covid-19 - Twitter’s posts about recipes and cooking jumped 60% in the US.

CPG companies are already reducing SKUs to improve efficiencies and brace themselves for less shelf space as stores’ footprints are reduced to accommodate less shoppers and less volume.

What the pandemic’s effect on cooking at home will be is an increased focus on innovation in home cooking appliances – appliances, ovens, refrigerators, stove tops, 3D printers and those we haven’t even imagined that are smarter, more convenient, interact with online ordering and can offer personalized solutions – with taste and nutritional preferences.

Not everyone wants to eat at home.