What does a return to restaurants mean for big-name packaged food brands?
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Brands that are grocery store staples, like General Mills, benefited from some habit changes during the pandemic: more people eating at home and buying food at the grocery store. Once we start going out to eat again, are there lessons packaged food companies can take away from the pandemic?
If the pandemic taught businesses anything, it’s that there’s a premium on the ability to change course quickly. CFRA’s Arun Sundaram said that applies to established brands, too.
“Companies are just going to have to constantly renovate their existing product portfolio and get rid of products that are not selling well,” Sundaram said.
When products are selling, if macaroni and cheese and cereal are flying off the shelves, companies need to meet that demand. But food industry consultant Victor Martino with Third Wave Strategies said a lot will depend on whether consumers continue to work from home.
“I think that will be good for packaged food companies that sell their products in grocery stores and online,” Martino said.
Since more consumers are shopping online, established companies like General Mills would do well to shift resources there, said Margo Kahnrose at the marketing firm Kenshoo.
“Suddenly, you’re talking about a real kind of getting into shape digitally that a lot of these brands have to do,” Kahnrose said.
She said more deeply rooted brands could have a harder time making that happen.
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