COVID-19 and the Foodways System: Analyzing Shifts in Digital Behavior
Online Grocery Store Illustration

Data-backed findings on how the coronavirus impacted food suppliers, retailers and consumer shopping – plus what to do about it.

Kylie Hershey, Analyst and Kelcey Curtis, Data Insights Director

COVID-19 has disrupted what we all knew as “normal,” and the impact to business is far-reaching. In a recent analysis, we assessed the spread and peak of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the impact it has had specifically on the online environment across the foodways system, from production supply to direct-to-consumer delivery. While the U.S. is still in the first wave of COVID-19, our findings could be a leading indicator for businesses experiencing a lagged effect of the economic impact of the pandemic and what other companies could expect in a second wave.

A summary of findings and implications:

  • There is a positive relationship between COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and online activity for clients spanning the foodways system from production supply to direct-to-door consumer food products.
  • Our findings support the hypothesis that the closer to the consumer’s fridge a food product is, the more strongly we’d see web activity correlate with the events in the world around us.
  • With these findings, there are a variety of considerations for brands as we move into the next phase of the pandemic:
    • For brands that have a direct line to consumers, keep the barriers low and remain supportive and accessible.
    • For those that are supplying retailers and have a consumer following, make it as easy as possible for consumers to research products, understand supply and find what they need.
    • For those on the front end of the process, brace for the downstream impact of heightened demand and surplus supply.

Download the full article PDF.

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