Ch-Ch-Ch Changes (in the way we shop)

I recently read an article in the New York Times Food section on the “7 Ways the Virus Changed Shopping” written by Kim Severson. I’ll give you the abbreviated version and my comments.

She notes in her article that people have moved to more complex cooking, a trend that doesn’t seem to be diminishing after the virus (hopefully) leaves our lives. During “normal” times, dinner was sometimes just food to get on the table, but during the Pandemic of 2020, people had more time on their hands, were willing to get creative and try more complicated recipes. Sourdough Bread is an example of that trend (but I give up on you Sourdough!) and also baking, with a 600 percent jump in yeast sales. The Chairman and CEO of Kroger foods, Rodney McMullen, believes the “Covid-driven return to the kitchen could change grocery shopping forever.”

  1. Less trips to the Grocery Store

For some people, they totally avoided the grocery store during the Pandemic. For others (like moi), we made precise lists of what we needed, to avoid unnecessary trips and more exposure to CV. Most people weren’t going to the grocery store on a whim, but “with a purpose.”

2. Online Sale of Groceries

Instacart is obviously the big winner in this scenario, as they more than doubled their work force. I can attest to the newbie Instacart shoppers, with my smushed bread at the bottom of the bag and giant can of black beans (to replace two normal cans) still lurking in my pantry. Curbside pick-up has also increased exponentially.

3. Oranges are Hot

Produce sales are up 11% and orange sales are up 73% from the year before. Obviously, shoppers are taking their health and foods to fight off viruses seriously. See my previous post (Foods to Kung Fu the Virus) for some examples of virus-fighting foods.

4. Stores have Changed The Way They Operate

With wider aisles (I wish they had this at MY Publix), more constant cleaning and less shoppers, some grocery stores have changed how they operate; shoppers want these changes to stay. I note to myself which grocery stores “feel safe” and which do not and have been shopping accordingly. Publix recently took down the directional arrows in aisles in some of their stores (shoppers complained) but Trader Joe’s still has them, is enforcing social distancing and you still can’t bring in your own (germy) bags.

5. Less Choices

Shoppers are being more economical in their choices, with House Brands (once known as generic) getting more attention. Online shopping tends to result in less impulse buys, making the grocery bill lower and dried beans were the “unexpected darling” in the early days of the Pandemic, as these items give you a lot of bang for your buck. I can’t say I ever hopped on that bandwagon, as I love Kirby Black Beans and usually buy my beans in a can.

6. Freezer Foods

Frozen food jumped 94% in March this year from 2019, according to the American Frozen Food Institute. In the beginning, this was a case of filling the freezer, like stocking your pantry. Our family basically cleaned out our freezer in the beginning months of the Pandemic, making meals from there to avoid visits to the grocery store. It’s now totally full again (thanks Trader Joe’s).

7. Local is Better

Local food has become more popular, as shoppers are less inclined to rely on unpredictable supply chain sources and also, want to support their community. According the article “it’s all a part of greater awareness about healthy eating, food waste and climate change.” I have shopped at Bee Heaven, a farm down in the Redlands and want to try the Farmer’s market at Pinecrest Gardens, to support Local businesses. Also, a lot of people have turned to local Mom and Pop bakers (Issa Bagel), dumpling makers (ZitzSum), ethnic food items etc… as a way to support their community.

How has the Pandemic changed your shopping? Let me know at Can we talk?

Up Next: Orange Crush Cocktail Recipe.

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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