For American consumers who find trick-or-treating during the coronavirus pandemic to be more chilling than thrilling, food gifts offer an opportunity to safely scare up both smiles and sweets, Packaged Facts says in a new report.

“Food gifts are a preferable option for gift giving during the pandemic because they are practical, easy to ship, comforting, and a good way to send treats to someone who cannot be visited because of social distancing,” says Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food and beverage publisher for Packaged Facts.

The research firm released “Consumer and Corporate Food Gifting in the U.S., 7th Edition,” earlier this year. While Halloween isn’t a gifting occasion on par with holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays or the winter holidays, companies involved in this segment continue to strategize to expand options. Options exist for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Father’s Day, Easter and occasions that take place year-round, such as wedding anniversaries, new births and sympathy-driven occasions. 

Halloween, in particular, hasn’t disappointed. The spookiest time of the year offers ample opportunity in a food gifting market that Packaged Facts estimates had sales of more than $21 billion in 2019. And according to Packaged Facts’ 2020 National Consumer Survey, 20 percent of people buying food gifts for others purchased a food gift for Halloween.

“Halloween is less commonly a gift-giving holiday, with the celebratory focus being placed upon snacks and candy given to trick-or-treaters,” Maps-Christ said. “Nonetheless, the holiday provides many opportunities for food gifting to personal friends, acquaintances, or family members.”

A number of products associated with autumn and Halloween can crop up in gift baskets, such as:

  • candy/caramel apples
  • apple cider
  • novelty candy and chocolates featuring wrappers with bats, ghosts, pumpkins, etc.
  • caramel corn
  • candy corn and pumpkins
  • Halloween cake
  • pies

For instance, Harry & David offers a number of pie gifts in the fall season, including apple and pumpkin varieties. And for Halloween specifically, the premium food and gift retailer offers ghoulish delights including Halloween artisan truffles, “monster” dipped strawberries and cake pops, and cauldrons overflowing with an assortment of decorated cookies.

Similarly, sells a variety of Halloween food gifts, such as popcorn, pretzels, baked goods, pumpkin cheesecakes, beer buckets, wine and picnic baskets and collections of Halloween candy. The retailer’s Halloween Candy Stash collection comes in a decorative box featuring witches and other spine-tingling themes.