Americans are cooking and baking more at home, now that restaurants are either closed or offering limited drive-up service because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent webinar hosted by the Center for Food Integrity, Susan Schwallie with the market research firm NPD Group said we’re seeing an unprecedented shift in food purchases.

Retail sales of shelf-stable foods - such as canned meats, tuna, canned soup, beans and rice - have grown by triple digits in the last month, Schwallie said.

In addition, sales of fresh chicken, ground beef, eggs, milk, and apples and bananas are all on the rise, she said.

Fresh meat sales were up 91% in value and 78% in volume year-over-year during the week ended March 22, according to marketing research firm IRI. This increase shows consumers recognize the nutritional benefits of real meat and poultry.

Perhaps not so surprising, sales of sweet and salty comfort foods, including popcorn, pretzels, chips, ice cream and pastries, are also up double digits during the last few weeks, Schwallie said.

“What I think we are seeing from shopping behaviors right now is a mix of panic and fear, as well as looking at food for enjoyment, familiarity and comfort,” Schwallie said.

Yes, we’re all adjusting to a new normal, but some things never change. Iowa farmers will soon hit the fields, planting the crops that will feed our families and the world. It’s also spring calving time, and farmers are working day and night to ensure newborn calves and their mamas get the best care possible.

There’s never been a better time to celebrate our “Farm Strong” values of hard work, perseverance and continuous improvement. Iowa farmers continue to work hard to provide safe, abundant food for all.

We encourage you to check out this latest issue of The Iowa Dish, as we explain the impact of the coronavirus on our food and the measures livestock farmers take to ensure food safety and animal well-being.

For a change of pace, we also take a closer look at food allergies versus food sensitivities, and we share a recipe that’s perfect for at-home baking and Easter breakfast. As always, if you have any questions about nutrition, food safety or how your food is grown and raised, feel free to contact me. We may answer your question in a future issue of The Iowa Dish.

Until then, stay home and stay healthy.


Teresa Bjork
Editor, The Iowa Dish

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