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How the pandemic is influencing consumer purchasing decisions

Food and beverage retailers and manufacturers have had to deal with some dramatic changes over the past year due to the pandemic. In some cases, years of projected sales growth occurred, instead, over a period of a couple of months. Many staples became hard to find as logistics chains struggled to adapt. Those in the food industry consultant niche have seen their clients dealing with new challenges and are helping them develop innovative ways to meet them. In many instances, consumer purchasing patterns have changed in ways that are likely here to stay. A few of the trends that will endure:

Longer Shopping Lists

Many people are working to reduce the amount of time they spend in enclosed buildings like grocery stores. One way they’re adjusting is by shopping for more products less often. Researchers at Deloitte have found that consumers are adding more items to their list each time they shop. Where many would previously have stopped into the store a few times a week for a few items, they are instead spacing out their trips and switching to weekly or biweekly trips.

Delivery and Curbside Becoming the Norm

Resources like Instacart and PC Express were already making grocery delivery a more enticing option for time-crunched shoppers. With the pandemic, demand has surged. Instacart has now provided deliveries to over 5.5 million people, served by an army that is soon to reach 750,000 shoppers.

While the trend was initially driven by lockdowns and fear of disease transmission, it has remained in place as consumers have come to appreciate the convenience of this option. Chains like Whole Foods have even begun to adapt to this evolution by adding “dark stores,” which serve as warehouses for delivery and curbside orders, and do not have retail shopping within the store.

How a Food Industry Consultant Can Help Navigate Changes

The pressures exerted by changing shopping patterns require a response that will allow food manufacturers and retailers to continue to thrive. Often, a new approach will be needed to accommodate new consumer tastes while keeping businesses profitable. Food industry consultants can work with these businesses to help find new sources for ingredients and materials when current distributors are unable to keep up with demand. They can help identify which new suppliers have the quality that customers have come to expect. They can ensure that new suppliers have the certifications that a company needs.

The food landscape has changed dramatically over the past year, and will only continue to evolve. By staying abreast of changes and using knowledge and resources to meet them, food retailers and manufacturers can continue to find success.

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