KANSAS CITY, MO. – There’s a whole lot of pivoting going on in the food industry these days as retail operators tackle supply chain challenges and foodservice operators try to stay afloat.

We’ve all heard that the global pandemic is driving radical shifts in consumer shopping behavior. Euromonitor International, a leading provider of global strategic marketing intelligence, said the pandemic has spurred unprecedented levels of channel shift among consumer spending habits, and these shifts have pushed companies across industries to make significant operational adaptations to meet new consumer demands.

But the most drastic channel shift involves food, said Michele Evans senior head of digital consumer at Euromonitor International. Evans oversees digital research on how technology is transforming commerce, and she shared some of her findings as part of Euromonitor International’s digital event – “Five Consumer Shopping Trends Emerging During the Pandemic.”

“Some restaurants pivoted to retail channels to offset the decline,” Evans said. “For many, delivery and takeaway services emerged as lifelines. Ordering and paying for foodservice via digital channels, specifically mobile, is accelerating due to the crisis.”

Enter the food industry pivot as stakeholders implemented new business models and supporting technology to drive new revenue streams. Foodservice distributor Sysco, for example, pivoted quickly to reach new channels, Evans said.

“It pushed some of its fresh meat and produce into grocery stores,” Evans said. “It also helped its partner restaurants by enabling them to add new retail products within their outlets. Sysco also created a new direct-to-consumer platform, called Sysco@Home to offer bulk grocery and dried food items, fresh produce and restaurant-quality steaks.”

So, where has all this pivoting led the industry? What is the current status of food retailers and foodservice operators and what lies ahead?

MEAT+POULTRY listened in to the Consumer Federation of America’s Virtual National Food Policy Conference held in July. Featured in a panel discussion of how COVID-19 is changing the US food system were Tom Bené, president and chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association and Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI: The Food Industry Association who spoke about how their members are faring as the pandemic drags on.


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