There is no longer a doubt that the pandemic is one of the most stressful events in many people’s lives. As a result, people turned to comfort food to deal with high levels of stress and anxiety.
In the past year, numerous studies confirmed that a large percentage of the population is experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Many cannot sleep, have trouble concentrating, feel on edge, and have other signs of psychological and emotional distress. Others have increased their consumption of alcohol and drugs.
On the contrary, some people tried to cope with the pandemic by eating their favorite food, not through drugs or alcohol. While there has been a greater emphasis on maintaining a healthy lifestyle to avoid becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, there are those who began buying more of the so-called comfort food. This sort of food is not exactly healthy. They tend to be high in calories, fat, processed sugars, and other ingredients that are not entirely healthy.
In many ways, the pandemic has also made it easier for consumers to access food that will satisfy their cravings. There are delivery apps, curbside pickup, and drive-thrus almost everywhere. You can get whatever you want in an instant.
The Businesses That Are Benefiting
Many brands have seen their sales improve because of the demand for familiar and comforting food since the pandemic.
The Campbell Soup Company had to hire more workers to increase production in 2020, the same year when millions of people were laid off or furloughed because of the pandemic. After years of declining demand, Campbell’s soup reported a 59 percent increase in sales compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, Prego pasta sauce saw a 52 percent increase in sales. Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish crackers, on the other hand, soared by 23 percent. Despite falling popularity in the past years, Kraft Heinz also told investors in 2020 that some of its factories had had to work three shifts to meet ongoing demand.
It was a good year for brands that have been around for a long time. The initial surge came from those who bought products that will survive months on their shelves. When lockdowns started happening around the world, many stocked up on supplies, thinking that they would not have access to it. Then, consumers continued buying from brands that are easy to prepare, ready to eat, and, most importantly, brings back memories from the good old days.
In one survey, about 41 percent of consumers said that they reach for comfort food to feel happy. About 85 percent admitted that they had gained weight during the pandemic. Moreover, 67 percent stated that they would instead give up drinking alcohol than their favorite comfort food.
How Entrepreneurs Can Take Advantage
Therefore, it is a good time to operate a business that caters to those who need comfort through food. Entrepreneurs who want to start their first business should look into sub franchises that offer familiar, comforting, delicious, and ready-to-eat meals.
Fast food chains also regained popularity. Although widely regarded as unhealthy, people choose to buy from these establishments because they are quick and, more importantly, affordable. After all, aside from living through a pandemic, the past year also brought an economic recession that saw the unemployment rate across the country rise. Pizzas, pasta, french fries, burgers, and hot dogs have seen increasing demands in the past year. Baked goods, including cakes and cookies, have also been widely sought-after during the pandemic.
In addition, more consumers are searching for homemade treats. While they stock up on canned, boxed, plastic-wrapped goods, they consume more meals that remind them of childhood and home.
However, aside from offering a product that people want, entrepreneurs should also strive to make their services easily accessible. Offering multiple ways to purchase products will increase sales. Aside from the traditional method, which are take-outs and drive-thrus, entrepreneurs should explore newer and more popular channels such as curbside pickups and delivery apps.
While delivery apps like DoorDash, Grubhub, and UberEats charge a fee, they open a business up to more potential customers. Analysts projected that the number of delivery app users will increase to 59.5 million in the U.S. by 2023. People will undoubtedly continue using delivery apps after all pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted, and it is safe to eat in a restaurant once again.
Food is more than just fuel to get a person through their everyday tasks. It also can provide comfort, especially during a period of increased stress. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the relationship that people have with food.