Pantry food brands are gearing up for panic-shopping as coronavirus cases continue to surge and a second round of lockdowns looms. After the first wave of coronavirus infringed on supply chains and emptied grocery store shelves, many companies are shifting operations to meet consumer demands.
Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo., is stepping up its inventory levels in anticipation of elevated demand between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl. While the holiday season is often a precursor for an uptick in inventory preparation, the snack company is increasing its system-wide inventory by 1.5 million cases, to meet the same needs from the first wave of COVID-19 in March.
“One thing we took away from that first wave is the leveraged data insights and capabilities we now have to prepare ourselves for any additional surge activity that we would see in the winter,” senior vice president of sales and chief consumer officer at Frito-Lay America Mike del Pozzo told FOX Business.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when demand spiked to unprecedented levels, Frito-Lay was forced to reduce 21% of its items, including some of its core brands like Lay’s Lightly Salted, Fritos Scoops Spicy Jalapeños and Doritos Salsa Verde.
The company made temporary cuts to deliver the volume of its most in-demand products and ensure availability everywhere for consumers. While 95% or more of paused items have since returned to the market, the chip company has taken precautionary measures to prevent any future interruption.
Frito-Lay has not only upped investments in supply chain capabilities, but it has also added new production capacity to accelerate production and increased its staffing levels across the supply chain.
More than half of Americans say they already have or plan to stockpile food and other essentials due to fears of a resurgent pandemic, according to a new poll from Sports and Leisure Research group. A new survey from Inmar Intelligence also shows that roughly 57% of shoppers are considering restocking in fear of a “potential second wave of COVID-19” and the consequent vacant grocery store shelves.
Other staple items with long shelf lives, like canned beans and rice, have also driven the hoarding craze.
Goya Foods, one of the largest Hispanic-owned food companies in the U.S., is strengthening its raw material needs at all of its 26 facilities worldwide in order to prepare for another surge of consumer demands. One of the brand’s poster child products, canned beans, is among the most sought-out pandemic commodities, with 82.1% sales growth over the last nine weeks, according to data from Nielsen. Rice products also saw an 84.5% uptick over that same amount of time.
“We never let our guard down from the first COVID-19 wave,” senior vice president of Goya Foods Joe Perez told FOX Business. “We've been working even closer with all of our suppliers, increased our pool of logistic partners and discussed with our customers expected needs so that we are 100% prepared.”
On top of the steps Goya Foods is taking, it is also anticipating the possible variables that could affect its sourcing and making sure it is satisfying the end needs of the consumer.
Grocery stores have already imposed another round of purchasing restrictions on essential grocery store items as COVID-19 cases continue to reach new records. Kroger, Harris Teeter, Publix and others, have begun setting limits on certain key items like paper products and hand soap, signaling the prospects of hoarding in the outlook of the cold weather season and potential lockdowns.