Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Food and Drink Consumer market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

While most retail food and drink categories experienced significant sales gains in 2020, growth was not universal. Performance-related categories, such as nutrition drinks, weight loss drinks and performance bars saw dollar declines. These categories have multiple routes to turning the tide moving forward, including leaning into their ability to help consumers meet renewed health goals or widening positioning beyond a strict fitness focus to highlight healthy convenience and portability.

A natural recalibration of retail food/drink performance is expected through 2021, with dollar declines projected in most categories. Consumers are eager to return to old habits, including eating away from home, which will again shift where and how dollars are spent.

Despite the venture back to foodservice, food at home will be helped along by a significant percentage of the population who will stick close to home due to changes in work situations. Close to half of US adults expect to work from home to some degree through 2021, necessitating easy and quick meal solutions. The lasting shift in work site will provide opportunity for brands to continue to resonate via the at-home meal occasion, primarily for lunch, breakfast and snacking throughout the day.

On the health front, a global health crisis accelerated the demand for functional foods/drinks. In effort to protect against infection, many turned to options with immune-boosting ties, from the old basics of vitamin C to more integrative tools such as ginger, oregano, and elderberry. This will translate to a continued focus on ingredients, ingredient quality and a desire for ingredients that contribute to specific desired outcomes, including weight loss, mental wellness and anti-aging.

Read on to discover more about the US Food and Drink consumer market, read our Future of Ingredients: 2021 report, or take a look at our other Food and Foodservice and Drink research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the food and drink market.
  • The impact of an increasingly home-based workforce on retail sale of food/drink.
  • The longevity of cooking at home and how brands can meet the needs of various shopper sets.
  • The continually shifting role of health.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Nuun, Southern Grove, Kellogg’s, Oikos, Junior’s, Kryssos, Frito Lay, M&Ms, Cheetos, Giant Eagle, Republica, White King, Bakery on Main, Aldi, Signature Select, College Inn, CJ Foods, Bibigo, Mamma Emma, Annie’s, Kroger, Tylina Sweetshop, Life Cuisine, Harris Teeter, John Soules Foods, O Organics, Good & Gather, Stop & Shop Nature’s Promise, Lean Cuisine, Wegmans Organic, Signature Select Soleil, 365 Everyday Value Organic, Traditional Medicinals, Great Value, Genuine Muscle Milk, Mi Tienda by HEB, Vör, Greenlee’s Lindt, Godiva, Ghirardelli, Ben & Jerry’s, Lay’s, Sutter Home, Silk.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Beth Bloom, a leading analyst in the US Food and Drink sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The COVID-19 pandemic afforded food and drink brands across the board an unparalleled opportunity to prove their worth. While the strong dollar gains will be short-lived, the relevance can resonate. 2021 will be marked with continued uncertainty for consumers eager to reclaim power as they navigate the opportunities and limitations of a new normal. As such, brands must continue to step in as convenient, accessible, functional and enjoyable solutions.
Beth Bloom, Associate Director, US Food and Drink Reports
Beth Bloom

Associate Director, US Food and Drink Reports

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
            • Economic and other assumptions
              • COVID-19: US context
              • Executive Summary

                  • Top takeaways
                    • Market overview
                      • Figure 1: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast of food and drink, at current prices, 2015-25
                    • Impact of COVID-19 on food and drink
                      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on food and drink, 2021
                    • Opportunities and challenges
                      • Launching into lunch (at home)
                        • Figure 3: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – At-home meals, 2021
                      • Pandemic intensifies focus on function
                        • Maintaining shelf-stable relevance by pivoting from survival solution to flexible option
                          • Figure 4: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Food storage type, 2021
                        • Help with cooking fatigue can help curb faster flight to foodservice
                          • Figure 5: Frequency of food behaviors – Cook meals from scratch, 2019-21
                      • The Market – Key Takeaways

                        • The pandemic’s uneven start resulted in varying levels of impact
                          • Financial wellbeing is improving
                            • 2020 food price increases exceed historical average in most categories
                              • Foodservice recovery underway
                              • COVID-19 Pandemic Overview

                                  • Figure 6: Daily trends in number of COVID-19 cases in the United States reported to CDC, 2020-21
                                • January-March 2020: discovery and first wave
                                  • Figure 7: Number of COVID-19 cases in the United States reported to CDC, by region, 2020-21
                                • April-July 2020: uneven lockdown and uneven impact as cases climb
                                  • August 2020-January 2021: new leadership, a new variant and first vaccinations
                                      • Figure 8: COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States, 2020-21
                                    • February 2021 onward: double masking and the road to reopening
                                        • Figure 9: Projected dates for vaccination coverage, as of May 19, 2021
                                    • The Economic Impact

                                      • A record drop and bounce back in economic activity
                                          • Figure 10: US GDP percent change from previous period, not seasonally adjusted, 2007-25 (forecast)
                                        • Employment plummets – recovers to 2016 levels – tech sector resilient
                                          • Figure 11: Unemployment and underemployment rate, 2007-21
                                          • Figure 12: Initial jobless claims, 2007-21
                                          • Figure 13: Employment levels, by industry – Information, financial activities, professional and business services sectors, 2007-21
                                        • Consumer spending and confidence are catching up
                                          • Figure 14: Real personal consumption expenditures and change in personal consumption expenditures, Q1 2007-Q1 2021
                                          • Figure 15: Personal saving rate, monthly, 2007-21
                                          • Figure 16: Consumer Sentiment Index, 2007-21
                                        • Federal Reserve promises to keep interest rates “near zero”
                                          • Figure 17: Effective Federal Funds Rate, 1990-2021
                                        • Inflation concerns grow as economic growth accelerates
                                          • Figure 18: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, 2007-21
                                          • Figure 19: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, 2007-21
                                      • Impact of COVID-19 on Household Finances and Spending Priorities

                                        • Financial wellbeing is improving, despite only half of Americans thinking their financial situations are healthy
                                          • Figure 20: Financial health, by household income, 2021
                                        • Stimulus relief has been a lifeline for many
                                          • Figure 21: Financial situation, by household income, 2021
                                        • Essential goods remain priorities…
                                          • Figure 22: Coronavirus spending habits, 2021
                                        • …but discretionary categories show signs of rebirth
                                          • Figure 23: Coronavirus spending habits – Higher priority, 2020-21
                                        • Saving remains a focus, but consumers ready to make exceptions
                                          • Figure 24: Spending behaviors – Past three months and future plans, 2021
                                          • Figure 25: Spending behaviors – Past three months, 2020-21
                                        • 2020 food price increases exceed historical average in most categories
                                          • Figure 26: Changes in consumer food price indexes, 2018 through 2021
                                        • Grocery budgets loosen
                                          • Figure 27: Frequency of food behaviors – Stick to a set budget for groceries, 2019-21
                                        • Foodservice recovery underway
                                          • Figure 28: Sales of food at home and away from home, 2010-21
                                      • Overall Consumer Mindset

                                        • Fear is subsiding one year after pandemic lockdowns
                                            • Figure 29: Share of adults worried about coronavirus exposure, 2020-21
                                          • Lifestyle concerns follow suit
                                              • Figure 30: Share of adults worried about coronavirus impact on lifestyle, 2020-21
                                            • The pandemic experience inspired reflection
                                              • Family first
                                                • New view of health and wellness
                                                    • Figure 31: Post COVID-19 priority changes, 2021
                                                  • Masks still provide a level of comfort despite new guidelines
                                                      • Figure 32: Level of comfort with activities, 2021
                                                  • Market Size and Forecast

                                                    • Food at home saw a 13% increase in 2020
                                                      • Figure 33: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast of food at home, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                      • Figure 34: Total US retail sales and forecast of food at home, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                    • Non-alcoholic beverages at home grew 11% in 2020
                                                      • Figure 35: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast of non-alcoholic beverage at-home, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                      • Figure 36: Total US retail sales and forecast of non-alcoholic beverage at-home, at inflation-ad prices, 2015-25
                                                    • Alcoholic beverages saw a 16% jump in 2020
                                                      • Figure 37: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast of alcoholic beverages at-home, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                      • Figure 38: Total US retail sales and forecast of alcoholic beverages at-home, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                  • COVID-19 Scenario Performance

                                                    • Mintel’s approach to predicting the impact of COVID-19
                                                      • Fundamental differences in how COVID-19 is affecting consumer markets
                                                        • Rapid recovery would slow food/drink growth
                                                          • Figure 39: COVID-19 scenario forecasts for food and drink at home, 2015-2025
                                                        • COVID-19 market disruption: risks and outcomes
                                                          • Figure 40: Summary of Mintel scenario expectations and the impact on food and drink, July 2021
                                                      • Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

                                                        • Categories that support home cooking posted large year over year gains
                                                          • Performance-focused categories took a hit
                                                            • 2020 claims activity favored value, convenience; upgrades present in 2021
                                                              • Brands can resonate by giving consumers some time back
                                                                • Consumers are ready for exploration
                                                                  • Brands can ease the burden of managing health goals
                                                                  • Pandemic Food and Drink Winners and Losers

                                                                    • Plant-based, frozen posted some of the largest gains; representing health and helpers
                                                                      • Figure 41: Select food/drink segments/categories with strongest 2020 dollar sales growth, by year over year % dollar sales change, 2019-21
                                                                    • Performance products post declines; can easily rebound as helping hands
                                                                      • Figure 42: Select food/drink segments/categories with largest 2020 dollar sales declines, by year over year % dollar sales change, 2019-21
                                                                    • Economy and convenience grew amid pandemic
                                                                      • Figure 43: Fastest growing and declining claims among food and drink launches, by change in share, 2019-20
                                                                    • Ethical claims and premium positioning return amid recovery
                                                                      • Figure 44: Fastest growing and declining claims among food and drink launches, by change in share, 2020-21*
                                                                  • Market Opportunities

                                                                    • Morning snack occasion grows; energy is the driver, “me time” may resonate
                                                                      • Need for eating on the go isn’t gone
                                                                        • Renewed focus on health boosts focus on function
                                                                          • A return to the (diet) experts?
                                                                            • Innovation as a means of excitement and empowerment
                                                                              • Retail as a food/drink discovery zone
                                                                                • Retain home cooks through experience
                                                                                  • Brands can aim at the home entertainment occasion
                                                                                  • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                                                                    • Home cooking will continue, but fatigue is seen
                                                                                      • Consumers have higher expectations for healthy eating post-pandemic
                                                                                        • Aspirations to cut back on snacking and the return of portability
                                                                                          • Experimentation and exploration on the horizon
                                                                                            • Brands can reward shoppers with accessible upgrades
                                                                                              • Consumers eager to return to shopping in-store
                                                                                              • Food/Drink Choice Factors

                                                                                                • Food was a pandemic respite
                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Food/drink statements – Role of food, 2021
                                                                                                • …less so for parents
                                                                                                  • Figure 46: Food/drink statements – Role of food, by parental status, 2021
                                                                                                  • Figure 47: Leading food/drink launches on the measure “convenience” among parents of children under age 18 in the household, 2021
                                                                                                • Consumers refuse to compromise on taste
                                                                                                  • Ethical practices see net loss in importance during the pandemic, temporary blip
                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Food/drink choice factors – More important and less important, 2021
                                                                                                • The Impact on Meals at Home

                                                                                                  • At-home lunch gets a big pandemic boost
                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – At-home meals, 2021
                                                                                                  • Lasting shift to working from home means lasting adjustments to meal occasions
                                                                                                    • Figure 50: Work expectations for 2021, 2021
                                                                                                  • Hybrid workers will be the wildcard to focus on
                                                                                                    • Figure 51: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – At-home meals, I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by work expectations for 2021, 2021
                                                                                                  • WFH does not equate to leisurely meals
                                                                                                  • Shifts in Cooking Habits

                                                                                                    • Home cooking will continue, but fatigue is seen
                                                                                                      • Figure 52: Frequency of food behaviors – Cook meals from scratch, 2019-21
                                                                                                    • Meal helpers gain ground during pandemic
                                                                                                      • Figure 53: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Cooking habits, 2021
                                                                                                    • Parents are a core audience for meal helpers
                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Cooking habits – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by parental status, 2021
                                                                                                  • Impact on Food Storage Type Choice

                                                                                                    • Shelf-stable offerings will hold onto some ground post-pandemic
                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Food storage type, 2021
                                                                                                    • Convenience turns stockpiling to stocking up
                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Coronavirus behaviors, 2020-21
                                                                                                    • Securing the future of longer-life food will require boosting perception of health
                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Leading shelf-stable canned food launches on the measure “healthy,” January-June 2021
                                                                                                    • Frozen will meet the needs of home-based workforce
                                                                                                      • Figure 58: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Food storage type – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by work expectations for 2021, 2021
                                                                                                  • Impact on Approach to Health

                                                                                                    • Consumers have higher expectations for healthy eating post-pandemic
                                                                                                      • Figure 59: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Health versus indulgence, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 60: Food/drink statements – Diet, 2021
                                                                                                    • Protein, immunity netted strongest gains in importance due to pandemic
                                                                                                      • Figure 61: Health attributes – More important and less important, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Health attributes – More important and less important, 2021
                                                                                                    • Focus on fruit and vegetables moving forward
                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Food/drink choice factors, 2019-21
                                                                                                    • Close to half of women will be focused on weight in 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Food and drink aspirations for 2021, by gender, age and area, 2021
                                                                                                    • Accessible health will be key
                                                                                                      • Figure 65: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – health versus indulgence – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by financial situation, 2021
                                                                                                  • Shifts in Snacking Behavior and Eating on the Go

                                                                                                    • Consumers aspire to cut back on snacking
                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Snacking/on the go, 2021
                                                                                                    • Eased restrictions, need for time savings support snacking and on-the-go eating
                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Snacking/on the go – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by work expectations for 2021, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Snacking/on the go – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by financial situation, 2021
                                                                                                  • Impact on Brand Exploration

                                                                                                    • Food/drink experimentation on the horizon
                                                                                                      • Figure 69: Food/drink statements – Brand loyalty, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices, 2020
                                                                                                      • Figure 71: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Favorites versus experimentation, 2021
                                                                                                    • Switching was driven by preference over necessity
                                                                                                      • Figure 72: Reasons for trying new food/drink brands, 2021
                                                                                                  • Value Versus Premium

                                                                                                    • Pandemic-spurred value focus did not equate to a quality compromise
                                                                                                      • Figure 73: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Value versus premium – i do this regularly now, by financial situation, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 74: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Value versus premium, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 75: Leading food/drink launches on the measure “premium,” 2021
                                                                                                  • Shifts in Food/Drink Shopping Habits

                                                                                                    • Pandemic driven surge in online shopping will lose some ground
                                                                                                      • Figure 76: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Online versus in-store, 2021
                                                                                                    • Homebound workforce will drive continued online shopping
                                                                                                      • Figure 77: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Online versus in-store – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by work expectations for 2021, 2021
                                                                                                    • Support desire for more responsible shopping
                                                                                                      • Figure 78: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Impulse versus stock-up, 2021
                                                                                                      • Figure 79: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Impulse versus stock-up – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by financial situation, 2021
                                                                                                    • Moms can always use a helping hand
                                                                                                      • Figure 80: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Impulse versus stock-up – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by parental status and gender, 2021
                                                                                                    • Demand for pack size favors variety; large maintains slight lead
                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Pack size, 2021
                                                                                                    • Interest in value can be met by large and small sizes
                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Pack size – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by financial situation, 2021
                                                                                                    • Return to office drives interest in small sizes
                                                                                                      • Figure 83: Impact of COVID-19 on food/drink choices – Shopping habits – Pack size – I expect to be doing this regularly one year from now, by work expectations for 2021, 2021
                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                    • Data sources
                                                                                                      • Sales data
                                                                                                        • Forecast
                                                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                • Terms
                                                                                                                • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                    • Figure 84: Total US retail sales and forecast of food at home, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                                                    • Figure 85: Total US retail sales and forecast of non-alcoholic beverage at-home, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                                                    • Figure 86: Total US retail sales and forecast of alcoholic beverages at-home, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                                                • Appendix: COVID-19 Scenario Performance Methodology and Assumptions

                                                                                                                  • Scenario performance
                                                                                                                    • Figure 87: COVID-19 scenario forecasts for food at home, 2020-2025
                                                                                                                    • Figure 88: COVID-19 scenario forecasts for non-alcoholic beverages, 2020-2025
                                                                                                                    • Figure 89: COVID-19 scenario forecasts for alcoholic beverages, 2020-2025
                                                                                                                  • Rapid COVID-19 recovery, central and extended COVID-19 disruption scenarios outline
                                                                                                                    • Scenario methodology

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