Daily online sales for grocery jumped 110% in April, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index (DEI). This is, of course, due to the current pandemic, which is driving e-commerce across the board.

But will it last? That’s the question.

Some big packaged food companies are acting like they think it might, including PepsiCo, which recently launched two new websites: PantryShop.com and Snacks.com.

Small brands have been selling their products directly for a while now, but the fact that larger producers are jumping on the bandwagon suggests this new channel might be here to stay.

“One suspects D2C may become a new normal as both shoppers and producers alike realize its benefits – after all, who wants to lug heavy cans of food around the supermarket and then get them home, which is perhaps something Kraft Heinz considered when it launched its D2C service for bundles of baked beans and soups in April,” wrote GlobalData Food Correspondent Simon Harvey in an email to Food Industry Executive.

Harvey’s comment highlights an important aspect of the new DTC initiatives: they’re selling product bundles. Kraft Heinz uses the bundle model at the DTC store it currently runs in the UK, offering packs of canned foods, sauces, and baby foods.

PepsiCo followed suit. As of this writing, PantryShop.com has seven bundles available, including the Everyday Pantry Pack and the Rise and Shine Pack, both available in standard and family sizes. Snacks.com offers individual bags of Frito Lay products, but requires a minimum order of $15, which makes them much less of an impulse purchase. 

It’s early days, so it’s unclear how much these new DTC ventures will impact traditional grocery shopping, either in-store or online. Current thinking is that the impact will be minimal. “D2C platforms are not expected to replace existing channels, at least among the big food manufacturers anyway, but are more intended to be complementary to them,” Harvey said.

As with all of the other changes that the pandemic has brought on, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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