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.

Pandemic-Era Interest in Health Has Boosted the Plant-Based Foods Industry: New Developments

  • Beyond Meat introduced an improved version of its flagship product – Beyond Burger 3.0 – that  is due to appear in grocery stores in May and in restaurants in June. The company has continued to improve the taste and texture of its products with the goal of converting more meat-lovers, particularly once they reach price parity with beef (a goal they hope to achieve by 2024).
  • Beyond Meat is developing a chicken alternative product that will possibly launch this summer. The company had previously offered a plant-based chicken product through KFC but was not available through retail.
  • Epicurious announced that it stopped publishing new beef recipes in 2019 as part of an effort to encourage more sustainable cooking and that it now includes a wider variety of vegetarian, vegan, or simply plant-forward recipes.

The February-March edition of The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey highlighted pandemic-era interest in eating better as 37% of respondents said they were eating more healthy because of the pandemic. This trend, coupled with more consumers looking to eat in a more healthy way, willing to try new foods, and curious about or actively looking to live more sustainably, will continue to propel the plant-based food industry forward.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Packaging area, with titles such as Frozen Food Packaging, Vacuum Skin Packaging, and Meat, Poultry, & Seafood Packaging.

Further analysis in Food & Beverage research is also available from our sister publisher Packaged Facts, with titles such as Vegan, Vegetarian, & Flexitarian Consumers; Meat, Poultry & Seafood Alternatives: Outlook for Plant-Based & Cultured Cell-Based Consumer Products; Dairy & Egg Alternatives: Outlook for Plant-Based & Cell-Cultured Consumer Products; and Home Food Gardening: U.S. Market Trends & Opportunities. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage    

Packaging & Foodservices Operators: Quality, Costs, & Sustainability Remain Hurdles as Takeout Still Dominates

Operators of cafeterias and restaurants are both still grappling with the ideal carryout packaging more than a year into the pandemic-driven push toward takeout.

  • Initially, they used whatever containers they could get as demand spiked above supplies.
  • The next step was to optimize the package for food quality, retaining food temperature, minimizing spills and leaks, maintaining appearance, and even including tamper evident features.
  • However, the packaging still has to be cost effective, particularly for school cafeterias and low-priced restaurant options, both of which have limited room in their budgets.
  • Once the basics were satisfied, sustainability became a factor – can the packaging be compostable, reusable, or recyclable while remaining functional and within an affordable price?

The rising prices of paper and plastic packaging have made reusables more appealing because it takes fewer uses for the container to become a better deal in terms of costs. However, facilities that go with reusable options must have sufficient dishwashing capacity and be able to handle collection of used containers (or partner with a firm that can handle both tasks).

Reusables also require buy-in from consumers in terms of an upfront or ongoing membership or in terms of changing habits, as many consumers are used to simply tossing their to-go containers. Still, as many households saw a flood of disposable carryout containers fill their garbage bins over the last year, more consumers might be primed to make a few sustainability shifts in their lives. According to the February-March edition of The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey, 44% of respondents agreed that their household was putting more household waste out for garbage pickup since the start of the pandemic. What consumers notice, they are more likely to prioritize and address.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Packaging area, with titles such as Foodservice Single-Use Products, Global Foodservice, Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, and US Restaurant Reopening: COVID-19 Impact on Supplies. Additional analysis is available from the Food & Beverage research from our sister publisher Packaged Facts, including titles such as Food Carryout & Delivery. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Packaging    

Top Themes For the Inside the Home: 2021

  • Comfort – Despite rising vaccination rates, most people still aren’t venturing wide into the world. Many homeowners are looking for ways to be more comfortable at home…from lounge-worthy furniture, indulgent bedding, live plants, and dimmable/mood lighting to radiant heating floors and massaging shower heads. According to the February-March edition of The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey, 60% of respondents indicated they were currently buying products to make staying at home more comfortable, so this market opportunity remains large.
  • Rooms – Our love affair with the open concept floor plan isn’t over yet, but more homeowners are looking to better define their spaces and, heaven forbid, add walls so that multiple people working at home or different family activities going on at the same time don’t interfere with one another.
  • Video Conference Accommodations – Most people don’t have the pressure of the Room Rater twitter account calling out their background for their work-a-day video conferences. Still, setting up a professional looking or pleasant background with attractive lighting (or at least not backlighting or glare), plants (live or faux), and appropriate art has become a priority for more people working from home, particularly as more expect to do so for the long haul. In the February-March edition of The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey, 46% indicated that they were still working from home or away from their normal work space because of the pandemic.
  • Sustainability – Most improvements these days are taking sustainability into account. Key options include better insulating windows, high efficiency appliances, water efficient plumbing, using natural/renewable materials, incorporating space for recycling or composting, and adding indoor “kitchen gardens”.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products and Consumer Goods areas, with titles such as Residential Lighting Fixtures; Live Goods: Plants, Trees, & Shrubbery; Flooring; Global Major Household Appliances; and Plumbing Fixtures & Fittings; and Freedonia Focus titles such as Household Furniture: United States and Office Furniture: United States. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Construction & Building Products      Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Garden Gnomes & Landscaping Whimsy

Although the shortage of garden gnomes might be a uniquely British response to the pandemic gardening trend, the idea behind it is more universal. More people are looking to add some fun and cheer to their outdoor space in any way they can after a year of being largely relegated to their homes for work and recreation.

Americans are not as traditionally into gnomes and statuary as British gardeners are, but homeowners looking to adopt some European charm or to add whimsical elements to their yard might consider garden gnomes (which are not in shortage in the US, even cheeky turns on the tradition) or other statuary. Colored garden lights or lanterns, fairy garden elements, topiaries, wind chimes, decorative garden stakes, and colorful outdoor cushions, rugs, and planters could be other takes on a similar need for fun in our yards.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Construction and Building Products and Consumer Goods areas, with titles such as Outdoor Lighting Fixtures, Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Furniture & Grills, Wood & Competitive Decking, Landscaping Products, Lawn & Garden Consumables, and Home & Garden Pesticides. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Covid-19    

Pandemic Grocery Gains Were Not Experienced Equally: Private Labels Took a Hit

Private label – also known as store-branded and generic – products have been seeing growth in recent years. Stores saw value in investing in their own brands and consumers were looking for value. The increasing introduction of higher-end private label items that moved beyond the basics also helped by boosting the average sale price of store-branded products.

However, these firms did not all see the huge pandemic retail grocery gains that the major food and beverage brands saw. Supply chain challenges and the cost-driven lack of flexibility built into their systems made it harder for them to respond to the sudden surges in demand that came as people shifted their food dollars from restaurants to retail.

In some cases, consumers sought traditional branded products to provide some level of certainty and comfort in uncertain times. However, more often than not, people bought what they could get. Because there were supply chain issues and low inventories, shoppers had to buy whichever oatmeal, peanut butter, frozen waffles, canned veggies, etc. that they could obtain. Even dedicated store brand value-based shoppers shifted to branded versions when no other option was available. This was one of the reasons why the average shopping basket price was up in 2020...sales of more branded products and fewer private label versions.

However, that trend is expected to shift back as private label suppliers increase their capacity shortages and improve their supply chains. Branded food product suppliers will need to offer unique options or other elements to retain value-driven shoppers who will shift back to price-based choices when the options are there.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly in the Packaging area, with titles such as Frozen Food Packaging, Ice Cream & Frozen Dessert Packaging, Fresh Produce Packaging, Processed Food Pouches, Candy & Snack Food Pouches, Egg Cartons, Vacuum Skin Packaging, and Meat, Poultry, & Seafood Packaging. Further analysis in Food & Beverage research is also available from our sister publisher Packaged Facts, with titles such as Home Baking: US Market Trends & Opportunities, Food Market Outlook, Beverage Market Outlook, Meal Kits, Global Meat & Poultry Trends, and Global Breakfast Cereal. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19      Food & Beverage      Packaging