A new report on the state of the food industry that reflects the past three years has shown tremendous growth in the sector. The food industry has seen a 10.7 percent increase since 2017. The overall sales number for the industry reached $158.4 billion, even including the fallout from the current pandemic.
Before COVID-19, the food industry saw very steady growth. Due to food inflation, the amount of food being moved did not keep pace with the dollar sales. Physical retail shops have been steadily outpacing other sources of food when selling specialty food. The specialty food industry has grown by more than $2 billion every year.
"The impact of COVID-19 on the specialty food industry cannot be underestimated," said Bill Lynch, interim president of the SFA. "Food retail is an essential business channel and while that has been beneficial to sales for our members, many of whom are small businesses, the overall landscape is both optimistic and uncertain. The intel provided in our State of the Industry report is one of the many resources we provide our members for fortifying and growing their businesses."
COVID-19 has strengthened the resolve of food sellers, even in the face of the massive push online retailers have received. With the pandemic forcing a quarantine, many people have taken to ordering their groceries and other essentials online, resulting in a massive increase in sales. One of the things that has increased during the pandemic is home cooking. Preparing food at home has received new interest, with cooking and baking becoming the new norm while we remain inside and during a recession.
Other trends have become apparent during the COVID-19 outbreak. Snacking has become more prominent during the pandemic, alongside the growth in at-home cooking. With more people cooking, cooking fatigue begins to set in, and people gravitate more towards the quick fix food items.
Plant-based meat production has seen an increase in recent months. Food production has seen a fluctuation, impacting meat production, and meat plants. Finding alternatives provided a great sales increase in plant-based, especially when the pandemic has produced an extreme shortage of animal-based food products, including milk and meat.
Making value purchases has taken precedence over buying more expensive products. With the pandemic keeping people inside and with many losing their jobs, value products that cost less have been more prominently sought after, even though the specialty food industry has recently seen growth.
Overall, the pandemic has forced the food industry to adapt to the changing needs of the people affected by COVID-19. The growth of the specialty food industry, advent of plant-based meat products, and the resurgence of home-cooked meals are all testament to how the pandemic has shaped the growth of the food production industry.