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Brief Published: 27 Apr 2020

Comfort-Seeking Quarantined Consumers Can’t Stop Snacking

Consumers are choosing comforting snacks

As US consumers continue to stay indoors to stem the spread of Covid-19, they’re reaching for sweet and savoury snacks that lend a sense of comfort and familiarity, and offer a moment of escapism.

In the week beginning March 15 2020, US consumers bought 50% more cookies and salty snacks, 21% more chocolate candy, and 34.5% more ice cream than the same week in 2019 (IRI, March 2020). And sales of pretzels and cheese snacks increased by 14.8% and 11.5% respectively (Statista, March 2020).

US food and beverage behemoth Mondelez International reported a big spike in demand for snacks in its portfolio through its e-commerce channel in March 2020 – include Oreo cookies, Ritz biscuits and Triscuit crackers. Executive vice-president Glen Walter told US publication FoodDive that he attributes this to consumers gravitating towards brands they “know and love” during the crisis. They’re also seeking to buy snacks online as grocery stores report shortages, according to Walter.

Meanwhile, Mark Schneider, chief executive of Swiss confectionery giant Nestle, told CNBC that he believes providing snacks and comfort foods is “just as important as providing essential nutrients” in these uncertain times.

For more on how packaged goods brands are evolving to fit consumer needs during the outbreak, read FMCG + Covid-19: Lessons in Resilience. For more on shifting consumer eating habits, see Covid-19 + Food: What are We Eating? and China’s ‘New Normal’ Food Consumers.