- The coronavirus pandemic has completely changed how Americans eat, as stay-at-home orders destroy daily routines.
- Sales of foods like hot dogs, snacks, and frozen waffles have skyrocketed as people are stuck at home.
- Booze sales are also booming, as people buy more tequila, hard seltzer, and boxed wine.
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The coronavirus pandemic completely uprooted how America eats.
Instead of going to bars and eating out at restaurants, people have been suddenly forced to stay inside due to shelter in place orders. Grocery sales skyrocketed, while restaurant visits screeched to a halt.
While the pandemic has been disastrous for many restaurants and other companies through the food supply chain, sales of some foods and beverages are soaring. Stuck at home, Americans have been craving very different foods than they were just weeks before.
Convenient products with long shelf lives, from hot dogs to snack packs, have become staples of the American quarantine diet. When people do order from restaurants, it is from pizza and wings chains with established delivery business. And, without the ability to go to bars, sales of liquor and boxed wine are booming.
Here is a rundown of what foods and drinks Americans are eating more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic.
PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta said in late April that Quaker’s sales were soaring during the pandemic, as people stayed home for breakfast instead of getting food on the go. Meanwhile, fast-food chains saw breakfast sales slump, with McDonald’s ending all-day breakfast and Taco Bell stopping serving breakfast in some locations.
Sales of Kellogg’s Eggo frozen waffles soared by 45% in March,Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane told CNBC in April.
Variety packs of snacks
After breakfast of oatmeal or frozen waffles, the quarantine diet doesn’t require Americans to wait until lunch to start eating again. PepsiCo’s Laguarta said sales of multi-packs and variety packs of snacks are soaring as people seek “moments of enjoyment during this confinement.”
For lunchtime, customers have stocked their fridges with convenient, long-lasting options.
Hot dog sales surged by more than 120% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from data analytics firm IRI.
“There are those instances where mum and dad want something for dinner that kids may not like,” Roerink said. “As easy, versatile, protein-filled, and kid-friendly solutions, that’s where hot dogs come in. They make for a quick lunch with some fruit on the side. Or a beloved dinner for the kids while the parents have sushi.”
Sales of meat alternatives are up 248% in the 12 weeks ending May 23, according to Nielsen data.
Meat processing plants’ closures have resulted in higher prices and shortages. In response, makers of meat alternatives have rushed to meet customer demand.
Faux “meat” isn’t the only plant-based alternative that is thriving during quarantine. According to Nielsen, oat milk sales were up 318% in the last 12 week period, compared to the same time last year.
Pizza has proven to be a go-to option for people throughout the pandemic. Domino’s and Papa John’s same-store sales have recently hit record highs.
Last week, Domino’s reported that same-store sales grew 16.2% in the first eight weeks of the quarter, starting on March 23.
Papa John’s systemwide sales in North America were up 33.5% in the period from April 27 to May 24.
Frozen pizza sales are also booming, with Nielsen finding that sales were up 52% in the last 12 week period, compared to the same time last year.
Along with pizza chains, chicken brands are some of the few restaurants thriving during the pandemic.
Wingstop reported same-store sales were up by more than 30% in April. While Popeye’s sales dropped to roughly flat during late March, they are now up by more than 40% compared to last years’ figures, parent company Restaurant Brands International said last week.
While Americans – unable to go to a bar or order a drink at a restaurant – have been buying more booze across the board during the pandemic, liquor sales have outpaced wine, cider, or beer.
Total alcohol sales have been up 27% in the last 11 weeks, ending May 16, according to Nielsen. Sales of spirits are up more than 36% in the same period.
According to Nielsen, standouts in the liquor category include ready-to-drink cocktails, tequila, and cordials.
The pandemic has done nothing to slow the growth of hard seltzer. Sales grew a whopping 311% compared to last year in the week ending May 16, according to Nielsen.
Hard seltzers account for 9.1% of all dollars spent on beer, cider, and flavored malt beverage. This summer, Nielsen expects that figure to grow to 10%.
“One common theme is that a lot of hard seltzer dollars are coming from a significant increase in hard seltzer buyers,” Nielsen wrote in a report last week. “The number of hard seltzer buyers more than doubled for the 8-week COVID time period compared to the same time period last year.”
Boxed wine and canned wine
Both extra-large containers of wine, such as boxes, and smaller formats, such as cans, are thriving during the pandemic.
Nielsen found “enormous” growth in three-litre boxed wine sales, with sales up 82% in mid-April. While large pack growth continued, Nielsen said in a report last week that smaller size formats were also performing well.
Canned wine sales were up at least 52% every week since the beginning of the pandemic. For each of the last three weeks, growth was up by more than 70%.