Special Report

What Americans Bought to Prepare for the Pandemic

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Food: Chicken

One of the first things people noticed at the market after the pandemic hit was that refrigerated chicken cases were empty or only sparsely filled. This is partly because virus-related shutdowns or labor shortages interrupted the supply chain. But it was also likely due to the fact that poultry (chicken and turkey) is the most popular protein in America by a wide margin, so it makes sense that buyers would go for it first, with Nielsen reporting a 52% increase in sales over 2019.

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Food: Canned meat

Meats in tins, such as corned beef, Vienna sausages, cured ham, roast beef hash, and Spam — now available in 15 main varieties and seven Spam-adjacent products — may not be as popular with pandemic preppers as meat alternatives, but they showed a 188% increase in sales over last year.

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Food: Frozen vegetables

Some 52% of respondents to the Coupon Follow survey said they had bought veggies from the freezer case, and 39% said they bought more frozen veg than usual. The study also revealed that frozen vegetables were more popular with baby boomers and Gen Xers than with millenials. Frozen vegetables obviously have a long shelf life and bring color and nutritional value to the table in a time when fresh produce shopping might be more limited.

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Food: Fresh vegetables

Despite the convenience (and often lower cost) of frozen vegetables, half the consumers contacted by Coupon Follow reported that they’d bought fresh ones in preparation for a lockdown. Nielsen‘s survey singled out only one variety as showing a slight increase (3%) in sales over 2019 — celery. It was also noted that “vegetable party platters” suffered a 7% decrease in sales.

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Food: Water

Half the respondents to Coupon Follow also reported having stocked up on water, buying 52% more than they usually would. The Nielsen survey found a 99% increase in water sales compared with last year. Health experts think this is silly, pointing out that the coronavirus doesn’t affect the water supply, and that buying water in a crowded store is probably riskier than drinking from the tap.

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