Snacks & Candy

Comfort Food Sales Increase Amid COVID-19 Concerns

IRI report shows consumers are stocking up on cookies, salty snacks amid coronavirus crisis
Photograph: Shutterstock

CHICAGO — Cookies, salty snacks and ice cream: These are the comfort foods consumers are turning to in a time of stress.   

Consumers are increasingly purchasing indulgent foods to help deliver joy during difficult days of at-home confinement caused by the spread of the coronavirus, according to a March 26 report from Chicago-based market research firm IRI.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans are extremely concerned about the coronavirus, while 48% are somewhat concerned, according to IRI. About 54% reported being more concerned about COVID-19 than a week ago.

As those concerns grow, categories such as rice, canned vegetables and macaroni and cheese are driving significant growth as consumers stock up. Half of extremely concerned customers are stocking up on pantry staples more than usual, according to IRI.

When looking across all channels for the week ending March 15, 2020, consumers bought about 50% more cookies and salty snacks than during the same time period in the previous year. Chocolate candy went up 21.1%, nonchocolate candy was up 14.4%, ice cream and sherbet 34.5% and frozen novelties 38.1%, IRI said.

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