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People Are Stockpiling Dried Beans and Energy Drinks in Coronavirus Panic

Plus, one of the largest natural food trade shows has been postponed after waves of coronavirus-driven cancellations, and more news to start your day

Grocery store shelf filled with dried and canned beans.
Dried beans are seeing a spike in sales.
Photo: Niloo/Shutterstock

Amid COVID-19 fears, shoppers are flocking to particular grocery store items

Fears of a wider novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the U.S. are prompting some shoppers to start stockpiling extra goods in case they find themselves stuck inside their homes for long periods of time.

Outside the obvious face masks and hand sanitizer, which items in particular are flying off grocery store shelves? According to Nielsen data from late February, shelf-stable and longer-lasting foods are seeing a spike in sales, while fresh produce is taking a hit. Via CNBC, here’s how some of the numbers stack up compared to this time last year:

  • Fruit snacks +12.6%
  • Energy drinks +10.1%
  • Dried beans +10.1%
  • Pretzels +9%
  • Frozen fruit +6.6%
  • Water +5.1%
  • Asparagus -3.2%
  • Mandarin oranges -4.2%
  • Chili peppers -4.7%
  • Celery -15.7%

(Oat milk saw a 441% sales increase, Business Insider reports, but that huge jump could be due to a larger market of consumers than there was a year ago.)

Scott McKenzie, global intelligencer leader at Nielsen, told CNBC that consumer behavior in response to COVID-19 is similar to how people shop ahead of extreme weather events like hurricanes. But with COVID-19, he noted, consumers are particularly interested in packaged products, like granola bars, and local goods that haven’t been imported.

And in other news…

  • The climate crisis “is going to fundamentally change the availability and safety of the foods we eat,” like cassava becoming toxic when faced with drought. [Vice]
  • Natural Products Expo West, billed as the “world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products trade show,” has been postponed. Concerns over the new coronavirus (COVID-19) had been triggering cancellations leading up to the event, with an expected 40–60 percent drop in attendance. [Food Business News]
  • Domino’s officially has 17,000 stores open across the globe. [QSR Magazine]
  • Would you care for some Lucky Charms or other cereal served on your IHOP pancakes? [Thrillist]
  • Specialty grocers are struggling as natural foods become staples of mainstream supermarkets. [WSJ]
  • “The American restaurant is on life support”: Karen Stabiner on the future of restaurants, which doesn’t look good. [The Counter]
  • Restaurateurs on which Democratic candidates would be the best for the restaurant industry. [Heated]
  • How some restaurants are trying to encourage their employees to be healthier. [NYT]

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