US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

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Popcorn Sales Spiking From Pandemic Era Scrolling, Streaming, & Snacking

Top suppliers of microwave and unpopped raw popcorn are reporting huge increases in sales since the US entered the lockdown period in March. Consumers can’t watch movies at theaters, so they’re recreating the experience – including the popcorn – at home.

In our Packaged Facts national online consumer survey conducted in May:

  • 58% agreed that they were seeking more comfort foods because of the pandemic.
  • 42% noted that they were eating in a more healthy way because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 57% noted that they were eating more snacks and treats, with even higher response rates among women and Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X consumers. These consumers – who are more likely to have children at home – were also more likely to be seeking comfort foods.

Popcorn hits that sweet spot as a comforting snack that has more of a health halo with its high fiber content compared to chips, crackers, and similar salty snack options. In addition, newer varieties are lighter or feature trendy coconut oil rather than butter or palm oil. Still, there are a lot indulgent popcorn varieties as well, from extra butter to salty-sweet versions featuring chocolate or caramel. Spicy pepper flavors are also being added to popcorn lines to keep up with that flavor profile trend in other snacks.

Greater screen time – scrolling, streaming, or general TV watching – is also definitely part of the spike in sales. Many people associate watching movies or binging on streaming series with snacking, and popcorn – a traditional theater snack – gets a boost here. The increase in the number of home viewing events this summer – from movies that would have been theater releases that are now being offered for online streaming to services such as Disney+ showing Hamilton and wide-variety of family-friendly releases – is also supporting sales.

Rising installation of outdoor movie equipment also helps popcorn sales by driving interest in simulating theater experiences at home, particularly as families look for another physically distant socializing option with friends and family or a way to give family members a vacation feeling without leaving home.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus. The Freedonia Group’s Packaging research provides a strong complement to packaged food industry analysis. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Food & Beverage