A new report from the NPD Group reveals that more consumers are skipping the healthy options and turning to indulgent snacks during the coronavirus outbreak. The findings mimic results from a previous NPD study from the recession that showed consumers want comfort food during uncertain times.
“In April, during the height of the shelter-at-home orders, 37% of consumers told NPD they wanted to make sure they had sufficient snack foods on hand. They were well-stocked on salty snacks and frozen sweets more than other items,” NPD shared.
According to the NPD report, snack food consumption has gone up 8% during the coronavirus outbreak. Consumers would rather snack on sweet or savory foods than health-conscious alternatives such as celery or carrots. A chocolate chip cookie is more appealing during times of stress than raw vegetables.
“Also, in many cases, the more snack food packages in the home, the more frequently the item is consumed, which tends to be especially true of certain types of snack foods. For example, consumers who have five or more packages of crackers or salty snacks consume those foods at higher rates than consumers with fewer packages in their home,” NPD explained.
The search for comfort in food is a common trend that extends to all meals. For example, a survey from the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) found consumers are buying more frozen meals such as pizza or lasagna because they consider them comfort food.
Research shows that people turn to comfort food because of stress and gravitate toward products with high fat and/or sugar. Comfort food can become a form of “self-medication” by providing a brief moment of pleasure amid stress. Some also use indulgent treats as a reward for surviving a difficult day. Although emotional eating can make you feel better temporarily, the results do not last and overindulging can become a long-term problem.
“In addition to rewarding one’s self, snacking for self-care continues to be a popular motivator as nearly two in five (37%) consumers say they snack to give themselves a break during the day and 24% snack to relieve stress,” a Mintel
Many indulgent snacks, like chips or cookies, are inexpensive and have a long shelf life. This makes them even more appealing to consumers shopping during the coronavirus outbreak and worried about how long their groceries will last before they have to restock.