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Store shelves in Oregon, California and other states were cleaned out in recent days as consumers stockpiled goods just in case the coronavirus outbreak causes lengthy home quarantines.
“If conditions (and/or fears) worsen, packaged food may take share from restaurants (otherwise, sales may just be pulled forward from future periods), which may hurt foodservice sales,” wrote Michael Lavery, a New York-based senior research analyst at Piper Sandler & Co.
The coronavirus outbreak has sickened 87,137 people worldwide and killed 2,977, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization. The U.S. has 62 reported cases and one death, but those numbers are expected to climb.
As the virus spreads to the U.S., consumers are heeding the advice of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which recommends having a two-week supply of food and water before a pandemic strikes. The coronavirus has not yet been named a pandemic.
“We expect categories like canned soup, peanut butter, canned meat, cookies, crackers, pasta, pasta sauce, protein shakes, frozen food, and canned vegetables to benefit the most from stockpiling,” Lavery wrote. "Cereal is also likely to benefit, but does need milk, which can spoil and so would need a store trip at some point, which could deter some consumers from making it a pantrystock item of choice."
Packaged food companies The Kellogg Company, Mondalez International, The Campbell Soup Company, Post Holdings, B&G Foods, Hormel Foods, Tyson Foods and General Mills are companies that could see sales boosted by 3 percent to 7 percent, according to Lavery.
Since the coronavirus spread outside of China on Jan. 20, Mondalez shares have performed the best, down 4.3 percent, while Tyson Foods has been hit the hardest, down 24.5 percent.