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.

Ghost Kitchens: An Answer to Real Estate, Food Service, AND Consumer Needs?

Restaurants are closing from a loss of foot traffic – workers have moved to home offices and shoppers have spent less time browsing – and operations costs from pandemic-era changes that were too much to cover. Closures effect not only foodservice workers, but also the commercial real estate in many areas, as there are not yet new restaurants to move into vacated spaces.

Are ghost kitchens the solution? Customers still want the diversity of options available in a vibrant restaurant climate, but many are not yet willing or able to dine in. As delivery fills the gap, more restaurants that are still in operation are making their kitchens available to those who are doing delivery only.

But is that enough? Some don’t think so.

The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey from August 2020 indicated that there are significant opportunities for growth in this area:

  • 26% of consumers reported ordering restaurant food delivery for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 45% reports using restaurant food delivery more because of the pandemic.
  • 27% of consumers reported using a food delivery service (e.g., DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats) for the first time because of the coronavirus.
  • 41% reported using a food delivery service more because of the pandemic.

For more information and discussion of market opportunities, see Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Food Carryout & Delivery and the companion report with timely consumer insights from our in-house survey capabilities. The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research provides a strong complement to packaged food and restaurant industry analysis, including US Restaurant Reopening: COVID-19 Impact on Supplies and Global Foodservice, as well as packaging industry titles such as Foodservice Single-Use Products, Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, and Global Single-Use Packaging Regulations.

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


Reusable Foodservice Packaging Expanding: Sustainability Concerns Outweighing Pandemic-Era Hygiene Concerns

While the COVID pandemic temporarily paused the use of reusable cups and foodservice items at places like Starbucks, that hasn’t stopped the development of these items for broader use. Corporate sustainability goals and concerns about waste generation are driving well known restaurant chains like Burger King and McDonald’s to look for new ways to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment.

Burger King has announced the development of reusable packaging for menu items such as sandwiches and beverages. After use, the containers, which are being tested in New York, Portland, and Tokyo, can be returned to the Burger King restaurant, where they are sanitized and reused. In September, McDonald’s announced a similar pilot program with Loop for reusable hot beverage cups in the UK starting in 2021.

The US restaurant industry uses over $14 billion of disposable products such as cups, containers, straws, and utensils each year, most of which end up in the waste stream. However, the development of products that combine improved environmental profiles with good performance continues to be a challenge for industry participants.

This is particularly important given the sustainability pledges by foodservice operators and changes in state and local regulations. For instance, on November 4, New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy signed a law banning the use of single-use retail bags – paper and plastic – and polystyrene foodservice containers and cups. As companies such as Loop expand their reusable packaging programs, more such packaging options will appear in foodservice outlets, pandemic or not.

For more information and discussion of market opportunities, see Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Food Carryout & Delivery and the companion report with timely consumer insights from our in-house survey capabilities. The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research provides a strong complement to packaged food and restaurant industry analysis, including US Restaurant Reopening: COVID-19 Impact on Supplies and Global Foodservice, as well as packaging industry titles such as Foodservice Single-Use Products, Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, and Global Single-Use Packaging Regulations.

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

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Packaging    

Indoor Air Quality Is a Priority in Retail Stores

Discount grocery retailer Lidl has announced that it has installed hospital-grade air filtration systems in all its stores. These systems are rated 13 MERV or higher and are able to help filter out virus particles such as those associated with COVID-19.

Lidl claims to be the first grocery retailer to have installed such high level air filtration systems across its network of stores. However, indoor air quality will continue to be an issue in this coming season and beyond as customers look for reassurance that it is safe to spend time in brick-and-mortar outlets.

In the August 2020 edition of The Freedonia Group’s National Online Consumer Survey, 66% of respondents noted that they were shopping online more and 63% noted that they are shopping in stores less because of the coronavirus. Indoor air quality improvements are one step that outlets can take to provide an additional level of safety and reassurance to customers.

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


Halloween Food Gifting: a Social Distancing Alternative to Trick-or-Treating

For American consumers who find the notion of trick-or-treating during the coronavirus pandemic to be more chilling than thrilling, food gifts offer an opportunity to safely scare up both smiles and sweets. Food gifts are a preferable option for gift giving during the pandemic because they are practical, easy to ship, comforting, and a good way to send treats to someone who cannot be visited because of social distancing.

Traditionally, Halloween isn’t a prime occasion for gifting on par with holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, or the winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa). Nevertheless, companies involved in this food market segment continue to strategize to expand options for food gifting for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Father’s Day, Easter, and occasions that take place year-round—such as wedding anniversaries, new births, and sympathy-driven occasions. And Halloween, in particular, hasn’t disappointed.

The spookiest time of the year offers ample opportunity in a food gifting market. According to Packaged Facts’ 2020 National Consumer Survey, 20% of people buying food gifts for others purchased a food gift for Halloween. Halloween is less commonly a gift-giving holiday, with the celebratory focus being placed upon snacks and candy given to trick-or-treaters. Nonetheless, the holiday provides many opportunities for food gifting to personal friends, acquaintances, or family members.

A number of products associated with autumn and Halloween can crop up in gift baskets, such as candy/caramel apples; apple cider; novelty candy and chocolates featuring wrappers with bats, ghosts, and pumpkins; caramel corn; candy corn and pumpkins; and Halloween-themed cookies, cakes, and pies. These are often packaged in a decorative box featuring witches and other related themes.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Consumer and Corporate Food Gifting and US Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus. The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research provides a strong complement to packaged food industry analysis, including packaging industry titles such as the update of Pouches (coming soon), as well as Global Foodservice Single-Use Products and Global Single-Use Packaging Regulations. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Packaging    

Getting Ready for a Socially Distant Thanksgiving? Food Gifting Might Be the Solution

With more families handling the holidays separately or via a Zoom connection, food gifting and holiday meal shipments is taking on a more important role this year. Packaged Facts’ National Consumer Survey conducted in February 2020 showed that 22% of consumers buying food gifts for others purchased such a gift for Thanksgiving. Additionally, 12% of consumers buying food gifts for themselves did so for Thanksgiving.

Many of the winter holidays place a focus upon family and fellowship around a dinner table. Thus, meal-oriented food gifts are an attractive option for Thanksgiving and other winter holidays. Giving the gift of a holiday dinner can save family or friends a lot of time cooking or shopping for ingredients and allow them to spend more time socializing.

Food gift sales can benefit from social distancing policies as food gifts can bring a sense of comfort and tradition to people who cannot be visited in-person or cannot travel. Additionally, they are a more practical gift in times of economic and personal hardship. Due to most food gift retailers having long-established online ordering and delivery operations, they are well suited to the 2020 shift to online orders and curbside pickup from brick-and-mortar operations.

Full meal gifts have accounted for a very small share of food gifts sent recently. However, this presents an opportunity in the pandemic era for families unable to travel or otherwise join the traditional holiday celebrations. Businesses taking advantage of this trend will span from traditional food gift companies (e.g., Hickory Farms, Honey Baked Ham) to meal kits companies (e.g., Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Dinnerly, Marley Spoon), restaurants, and even grocery stores. 

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see Packaged Facts’ food- and beverage-related reports, including Consumer and Corporate Food Gifting and US Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus. The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research provides a strong complement to packaged food industry analysis, including packaging industry titles such as the update of Pouches (coming soon), as well as Global Foodservice Single-Use Products and Global Single-Use Packaging Regulations. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage