Speaking on the firm’s Q2 earnings call, Spinner said category management teams had identified 300-400 products that they anticipated would see a material lift in sales owing to COVID-19 including frozen vegetables and fruits, general staples, canned goods, rice, and nuts.
This had panned out as expected, he said: “certainly we have seen that." However, there had also been a “general lift across the balance of the stores as well” with sales up in the double digits year-on-year.
“It's not just canned soups and beans and rice," said Spinner. "It's produce and protein and perimeter and center store, which leads us to believe that there are more and more people, more and more consumers spending more time eating at home than they are going out.
“With the effects of the last two weeks on our inventory on hand and our suppliers' ability to ramp up production, supplier fill rates have been challenged,” he added, with the biggest lift in New York, California, and Washington.
But he cautioned: “We're not raising our top-line guidance and we're still kind of watching to see what happens… Whether that [surge in sales] continues or not, I can't even begin to tell you. Are we going to see more and more people leaving the restaurants and eating at home? That's possible.
“Obviously it's very early. And so we certainly are uncomfortable making any predictions as to what this does to UNFI for the rest of the year.”
Califia Farms sees uptick in sales of shelf-stable plant milks
At plant-based brand Califia Farms, CEO Greg Steltenpohl said the company had seen a sharp uptick in sales of shelf-stable almondmilk and oatmilk, with particularly strong e-commerce sales as some shoppers ordered from home.
It’s too early to know how this might impact full-year sales (ie. is this just a case of front-loading purchases that would have been made anyway over a longer period of time, or are consumers buying these products instead of something else, or even buying/trying them for the first time?), said Steltenpohl.
"The fact that the US milk industry is largely a fresh shorter shelf-life industry, because of the pantry-stocking we're seeing now, we'll probably get more unbiased trial or novel users of plant milks than we've ever seen before."
According to Nielsen data, sales of fresh fruit are down, but several categories have seen a sharp uptick in sales due to COVID-19-related pantry-loading, including:
- Oatmilk: +322% YoY week ending Feb 29 (in the previous week to Feb 22, sales were up 305.5% YoY)
- Dried beans: +36.9% YoY week ending Feb 29 (in the previous week, sales were up 10.1% YoY)
- Water: +11.3% YoY week ending Feb 29 (in the previous week, sales were up 5.1% YoY)
- Canned meat: +31.8% YoY week ending Feb 29 (in the previous week, sales were up 9.7% YoY)
- Powdered milk products: +84.4% YoY week ending Feb 29 (in the previous week, sales were up 5% YoY)
Read more HERE.