Buying In Bulk Has A New Meaning

The Lempert Report
June 05, 2020

According to Nielsen the hoarding practices that we have witnessed over the past few weeks has slowed down considerably and now shoppers are turning to bargain hunting, as they fear the worse for the economy.

One practice, led by foodservice distributors and restaurants and even corner bakeries that have decided to sell groceries and ingredients direct to consumers, is a return to buying in much larger sizes – or buying in bulk.

It’s not because people are cooking in bulk, but rather that they were and still are worried that the next time they go to the store, their favorite ingredient, might not be available. With more time at home, home baking saw the largest rise in popularity – some would say to fill up time during the day, others used it to relax, while still others involved their kids and used the opportunity to share new skills. 

But what are shoppers doing with all this extra food?

The New York Times writes that Matt Bochneak bought a 50lb bag of potatoes from a restaurant supply store in Portland because it cost only $20, and he wanted some peace of mind as store shelves emptied. But (now) he feels overwhelmed by the sheer volume.

“There’s no way I could eat 50 pounds of potatoes,” Mr. Bochneak, 42, said. He grilled a few of them, and had plans to make gnocchi — but the potatoes turned out to be the wrong type.

Panic buying anyone?

The truth is that there is a new normal in grocery shopping, and frankly people are trying to avoid those extra trips to the store as the experience these days doesn’t seem all that enticing. Masks, gloves, plastic barriers, one way aisles have all changed the experience for a delightful one to a disdainful one.

Expect to see larger pantries being built, racks of foods in basements and garages filled with staples like beans, coffee, canned goods and baking yeast – all the products that Nielsen has reported on that show the biggest gains in years.

For some shoppers it is a way to relieve anxiety and at least feel secure that their families ill have enough food to eat. For others it's a way of combating the price increases. But the impact on our supply chain must be considered; the potential waste, the possible shortages and the fact that with stuffed freezers and pantries, people won’t be going to the grocery store any time soon.