David Lockwood, director of Mintel Consulting, has been a research pioneer for more than 30 years and specializes in identifying and starting new lines of business. He, along with other industry experts, will be speaking at Specialty Food Live!, SFA’s upcoming virtual event, taking place Sept. 21-24.
Lockwood’s session, The State of the Specialty Food Industry: Category Focus, will take place on Sept. 22 at noon EST. It will zero in on the forecast for today’s most influential categories including cooking-at-home essentials, snacks, and plant-based products. SFA News Daily spoke with Lockwood about what the industry will look like post-pandemic.
What category has seen the most change during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A number of categories have seen sales gains near 40 percent year on year, which hasn’t happened since, well, maybe never. There is baking mixes, ingredients, and flours, and a few categories involved in providing quick family meals: soups, entrees, and mixes (shelf stable, like macaroni & cheese), and sauces (pasta and pizza).
Is there anything that surprised you from the State of the Specialty Industry Report, which was recently released by the Specialty Food Association and Mintel?
Consumer commitments to the environment, which can be expressed as organic, plant-based, non-GMO, and many other ways stayed at least as strong as before the pandemic, even if their financial circumstances made it difficult to follow through when purchasing food.
How can makers take advantage of the current trends while also staying authentic to their brand?
Keeping values front and center remains important. Research into the right mix of channels for your brand is also a good investment given that channel switching is likely to continue to happen in 2020 and 2021.
What trends do you think will continue post-pandemic?
There will be an increase in home baking, online purchasing, and a focus on environmental and social responsibility as Gen Z’s continue reaching adulthood.
What do you hope attendees take away from your session?
That the specialty food industry continues to innovate for the entire food business, even during a pandemic, and activity within categories shows how this is happening.