US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

Will the Pandemic Lead to More Veganism? “Veganuary” Campaign Expecting to Have Record Number of Participants in 2021

Many people have discovered that they changed their eating habits during the COVID-19 pandemic. For most people, this was shifting from dining out to cooking at home or at least eating at home with carryout meals.

However, others found that they shifted what they ate as well. For instance, while 59% of respondents to The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey in November 2020 reported eating more comfort foods because of the coronavirus pandemic, 45% reported that they were eating more healthily because of the pandemic. With many people still concerned about the health effects of the COVID-19 virus for themselves or their families, many people sought to eat better to improve their personal health.

Combining these pandemic effects with the growing availability of vegan and otherwise plant-forward food options in stores and restaurants, the promoters of Veganuary – a pledge to eat meat-free for the month of January – expect record participation.  

In fact, there is already a growing community of vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian consumers. Our August 2020 national online consumer survey indicated that only 3% of respondents identified as vegan, but that number is growing as most people who follow this eating philosophy are new to it. Nearly one-third reported that they started eating vegan in 2000, and 20% started eating vegan in 2019.

Additionally, there is a growing number of people eating more plant-forward diets. In the same August 2020 survey, 5% identified as vegetarian and 36% said they follow a flexitarian diet in that they regularly incorporate vegetarian or vegan meals. These are consumers – an additional 41% of the population – who would be open to eating vegan packaged foods and vegan meals from restaurants or to cooking vegan meals at home.

With the proliferation of meat and dairy analogues – including versions with a taste and texture to please even a devoted meat eater – it is increasingly easy for more consumers to sample plant-forward eating and incorporate more of it into their routine meals.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see reports from our sister publisher, Packaged Facts, including Vegetarian, Vegan, & Flexitarian Consumers; Meat, Poultry, & Seafood Alternatives: Outlook for Plant-Based & Cell-Cultured Consumer Products; Dairy & Egg Alternatives: Outlook for Plant-Based & Cell-Cultured Consumer Products; Global Meat & Poultry Trends; The Organic & Clean Label Food Shopper; and Home Food Gardening (coming soon).

Related research is also available from The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including packaging industry titles such as Molded Pulp Packaging, Stretch & Shrink Film, and Meat, Poultry, & Seafood Packaging as well as coverage in Frozen Food Packaging and Produce Packaging coming soon. The Freedonia Group’s related garden industry coverage includes Home & Garden Pesticides, Lawn & Garden Consumer Insights: The Home Gardener, and updated editions of our benchmark reports -- Lawn & Garden Consumables and Power Lawn & Garden Equipment -- are coming soon.

Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage    

Sanitizers, Wipes, & Masks Became Holiday Gift Options…Because 2020

Many families have their “practical gifts” traditions during the holiday season. Maybe they discover new toothbrushes in stockings from Santa, maybe they find new pajamas gift wrapped under the tree, or maybe socks and underwear are traditional Hanukkah gifts one night. This year, for many, hand sanitizer, new masks, and containers of disinfecting wipes made appearances in stockings and gift exchanges.

In the spirit of the traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, here is a list of what those gifts might be for 2020 as we think back to all the things that suddenly became hard to find, key parts of our household stockpiles, or things that we never thought we needed until this pandemic year.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me….

  • 12 bottles of hand sanitizer
  • 11 packs of cleaning wipes
  • 10 packs of toilet paper
  • 9 reusable masks
  • 8 jigsaw puzzles
  • 7 takeout meals
  • 6 DIY home projects
  • 5 streaming services
  • 4 garden plots
  • 3 comfy chairs
  • 2 internet boosters
  • And a kiddie pool in the backyard!

Happy holidays from the family, including The Freedonia Group, Packaged Facts, Simba Information, and Profound.

  Chemicals      Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Increases in Working from Home Boosts Interest in Radiant Floor Heating

Among the many changes that have taken hold in the US since the COVID-19 pandemic, that of working from home appears to have achieved a level of staying power. For employers, the realization that workers can be just as productive from their homes – while also minimizing the potential spread of coronavirus in a crowded office – has been crucial. Similarly, many employees value the many conveniences of working from home – no more commutes, flexible schedules, and an everyday casual dress code.

Many workers are choosing to make their “temporary” home offices more permanent, and according to a recent report, one of the ways in which they are doing so is to add radiant floor heating to their residences. For many homeowners, radiant floor heating – in which heated water is pumped through a pipe network installed beneath the flooring of a room (or the whole house) – eliminates the memories of a too-cold office while adding an “affordable luxury” to a home.

For the building construction industry, this increase in demand for radiant floor heating will support demand for a wide range of building materials, such as:

  • pipe, particularly the highly flexible crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) pipe often specified for these projects
  • plumbing products used to connect radiant floor heating systems to existing plumbing lines, such as fittings, manifolds, and supports
  • higher-capacity water heaters (for homes heated by natural gas) or wiring systems (for homes with electric heat)
  • flooring materials (such as decorative tile or LVT), as many homeowners replace older or worn floors during the installation of radiant floor heating systems

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in Construction and Building Products, including Behind the Wall Plumbing, Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings, Plastic Pipe, Global Flooring, and a fresh update of Hard Surface Flooring coming soon. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

Continuing Strength of Pallet Market Spurs Acquisition

The announcement by UFP Industries (UFPI) – a leading supplier of building materials and pressure-treated lumber – that it will purchase PalletOne is not only a way for UFPI to bolster its existing product portfolio, but also to enter in a new market segment that has shown growth during the COVID-19 pandemic – pallets.

PalletOne manufactures wooden crates and industrial packaging products, and also pressure-treats wood lumber, helping to mitigate degradation caused by exposure to the elements. UFPI also makes industrial lumber products, so the purchase of PalletOne will boost its capacities in that market segments.

It is PalletOne’s important role in the new pallet segment that is the key component of this transaction, though. Traditionally, only a few products (such as pharmaceuticals) were shipped on new pallets, with reclaimed pallets – pallets which have been used multiple times – accounting for the vast majority of trips. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred demand for new pallets. Those involved across the supply chain – such as manufacturers, shippers and warehousers, and retailers – have identified used pallets as a potential source of COVID-19 infection. While the risk of transmission is low, used pallets are frequently handled as products are unloaded from and loaded onto them.

In contrast, new pallets – such as those made by PalletOne – see much less use and thus are seen as a safer alternative to reclaimed pallets. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and more people are vaccinated, it is expected that (as with so many other things) people will be reluctant to go back to the old ways of handling products, and will continue to specify new pallets when shipping items as food and consumer goods.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Pallets and Global Pallets. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Machinery & Equipment      Packaging    

Peloton Deal Shows Continuing Strength of Fitness Market

Peloton – a key supplier of stationary bicycles and other home exercise equipment – announced on Tuesday that it planned to purchase Precor, a leading manufacturer of commercial exercise equipment. In some ways this is a “typical” transaction in that a company is buying a complementary product supplier. However, a closer look shows the role the COVID-19 pandemic has played in bringing these companies together.

Demand for Peloton-branded stationary bikes and treadmills surged during the pandemic as people sought to maintain their physical fitness by exercising more at home, due to their reluctance to go to a gym, or because gyms were closed due to local or state mandates. However, Peloton had trouble meeting this increased demand, as shipping delays meant that its Taiwan-manufactured products took days and weeks to reach customers.

The purchase of Precor will help alleviate these shipping issues, as the company has plants and warehouses in the US, thus allowing Peloton to head off future supply issues by expanding its domestic manufacturing print (a move made by many other firms during the COVID-19 pandemic). The acquisition also positions Peloton for future growth. While many people will continue to exercise more extensively at home, others will return to their gyms with a vengeance – particularly as vaccines reduce the risk of the disease. Peloton will then see sales gains as gyms re-stock their facilities with the exercise equipment supplied by Precor.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including the Freedonia Focus Reports collection which features a wide variety of concise reports including recreation industry titles such as Sports Equipment: United States and Recreation: United States. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19