Since identifying the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Wuhan, China in late December 2019 until press time for our April issue of SF&WB at the end of March, the virus is known to have infected over 750,000 people, tragically causing over 36,200 deaths.
This pandemic has shaken society to its core. And it’s far from over.
Most of us in major cities, like Chicago, where I live and work, are shuttered inside of our homes. We’ve stocked our pantries to help us endure. We fear for the future, and anxiously face the dawning of every new day.
Frenzied pantry stocking has caused a significant retail sales spike. According to data from IRI, Chicago from the week of March 15, sales in the bakery aisle jumped 62.3 percent. IRI also found an increase of 44.3 percent for cookies and crackers. (Excerpted from “Coronavirus: bakery sales jump 44 percent,” posted on www.snackandbakery.com, March 26.)
Isolation and social distancing are causing unprecedented changes in consumer behavior, according to The Center for Food Integrity’s Consumer Trust Insights Council. Folks are buying more “guilty pleasures.” Sales of treats like cookies are ticking up. The council predicts people increasingly will seek little indulgences to bring them joy during anxious times. (Excerpted from “Coronavirus triggers consumers’ guilty pleasures,” posted on www.snackandbakery.com, March 16.)
To date, the snack and bakery industry has proven amazingly resilient in the face of this crisis.
Excerpted from Dave’s Killer Bread (@DavesKillerBread) from a Facebook post on March 27:
“We are jamming over here, trying to keep up with everyone’s hunger for DKB. We’re ramping up production and working overtime to keep shelves stocked with our most popular varieties. Kudos to our killer employee partners working their tails off to keep bread rising, ovens full, and trucks fully loaded on their way to your favorite stores. And it’s not just us. So many people in the industry are working hard right now, from truck drivers to grocery clerks. We definitely have an attitude of gratitude over here.”
Excerpted from Franz Bakery (@franzbakery) from a Facebook post on March 17:
“For the love of bread and our communities, we’re still baking and delivering bread to our valued customers and retail partners. Also, thank you to all of our Franztastic employees who are dedicated to baking and delivering product. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities all the good breads ... and cookies … and let’s not forget about those donuts, too.”
From a La Brea Bakery email on March 23:
“Grocery stores are running out of supplies daily and consistently needing to be restocked, as consumers look to buy the essentials they need during this uncertain time. La Brea Bakery wants to assure consumers that its bakeries are up and running at full capacity and delivering to grocery stores nationwide, giving everyone access to fresh, quality bread that can be eaten that day, or stored in the freezer to be eaten at a later date.”
The world is shaken. But our industry is doing everything in its power to keep our global pantry safely stocked.
We will endure.