Potato chips

Snack food consumption was up 8% in April, according to research from the NPD Group. For comparison, during the Great Recession of 2008-2010, snack food consumption increased just 1%. NPD suggests that the increase is due to new shopping and work-from-home patterns as well as the need for comfort and enjoyment during this stressful time.

When it comes to pandemic buying, this research echoes previous findings that consumers have been reaching for snacks. During a webinar early in the pandemic, IRI’s Sally Lyons Wyatt said that core snacks saw a 39% increase in dollar sales the week ending March 15. 

In the NPD study, more than one-third (37%) of consumers reported stockpiling snacks, with salty snacks and frozen sweets being the most common products to stock up on. Not surprisingly, the rate of consumption correlates with the number of snack food packages in the home.

These data are from earlier in the pandemic, when in most places eating away from home wasn’t an option. But NPD food and beverage analyst Darren Seifer believes the trend will continue. “Although we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, I think it’s safe to say snack food manufacturers and retailers can expect elevated snack food usage while COVID-19 restricts our restaurant usage and overall movement, in particular school closings and work from home orders,” he said in a press release.

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