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Consumers’ food choices changing

rural vitality

Food access trends, both in the U.S. and internationally, have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with grocery stores and food delivery services seeing gains while restaurant revenue suffer­ed. 

Jessica Spreitzer, a trade analyst with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), looked at 2020 numbers and projected trend lines in her presentation last month to the USMEF virtual spring conference.

“[There is] a pent-up demand in the U.S. for going out to eat, for hanging out with friends and family again, now that the vaccination pace is increasing,” Spreitzer said. “And they’re spending money. Spending money that has been saved, or money from the stimulus, on enjoying higher quality food, and also on travel and more experiences.”

The USMEF’s 2021 projections call for a rebound in restaurant sales across the globe, gaining 17% over last year’s total. However, this is still several points lower than the 2019 levels, showing the need for more recovery. 

The group projects grocery stores, both domestic and abroad, will see an additional 2% gain over 2020’s elevated sales level. 

Food delivery service will likely experience losses this year as people return to retail shops and diners, but e-commerce food and drink service use is expected to rise another 8%.

Grocery stores and restaurants in the U.S. both saw revenues jump in the early months of 2021. 

Restaurant revenue now is only off 3% compared to the same time in 2019. 

Grocery store revenue remains elevated, up 13% this year compared to 2019.

Globally, restaurants saw a 26% decrease in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, reflecting closures and other concerns related to COVID-19. 

By contrast, all grocery store retail grew 2% in 2020 over 2019, while food delivery and e-commerce food and drink services saw a 29% and 51% increase in revenue, respectively, in 2020.


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