U.S. packaged food sales will jump 15% to 30% between March and May, Credit Suisse reports. This is due to a “massive shift in eating patterns” as consumers eat more at home due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Research analyst Robert Moskow wrote: “Our view is that this represents a shift in food consumption demand, not just a pull-forward, because consumers will need to continuously restock their homes. We expect food consumption to remain elevated over the next 12 months as consumers choose to keep eating food at home to save money, much like they did during the last three economic recessions in 1990, 2001, and 2008.”

Here’s a quick look at what people are buying:

  • Shelf-stable staples — Foods like canned goods, dried beans and rice, and powdered milk were the first to see increases, with steep increases starting at the beginning of March.
  • Snacks — For the week ending March 15, IRI reported a 39% increase in dollar sales in core snack categories, which include candy, cookies, chips, crackers, nuts, and yogurt.
  • Frozen and refrigerated foods — The week ending March 15 also saw frozen and refrigerated food sales jump 78.8% and 57.8%, respectively. In the frozen category, the biggest growth driver was frozen pizza, which was up 117.2%. For refrigerated foods, uncooked meats (excluding poultry), sliced lunchmeat, shredded cheese, and fresh eggs were all up more than 70% compared to the year before.
  • Bread — After years of steady declines, sliced bread is making a comeback. Read about one company’s experience in Food Business News.
  • Alcohol — Nielsen reports that alcohol sales were up 55% in the third week of March compared to a year ago. The increase was across the board — spirits, wine and beer — with the biggest spike seen for ready-to-drink cocktails.
  • TreatsGuilty pleasures, like chocolate, are also making their way into shoppers carts, according to The Center for Food Integrity Consumer Trust Insights Council. The CTIC expects this trend to continue as “people increasingly will see out little indulgences to bring them joy during anxious times.”