People are seeking healthier food, which also helps our industry. These consumer habits could become a part of daily life and persist for decades, particularly with school-age children, who are impressionable and represent a large portion of the U.S. and world population.  And COVID-19 has hastened the optimization of trends that were underway prior to January, for example e-commerce expansion and solving ‘the last mile’ for groceries, and investing in technology and automation to address labor shortfalls and expenses in orchards, fields and packing sheds.

Mike Preacher, marketing director, Domex Superfresh Growers

Food safety and food defense have been trends for the past several years, but a worldwide pandemic puts epic emphasis on how companies are handling these important topics.  The “self-serve” food products will continue to become anywhere from rare to extinct, as the market shifts hard into pre-packed products that will be more often than not packed off site. “WFH” (work from home) will also be a new normal for a lot of companies. Therefore, buying habits will continue to evolve for their snack and lunch hour purchases. 

- Scott VanderWerf, vice president of sales and marketing, Nextera Packaging

The effect of the pandemic in the short and medium term are easier to predict.  I believe as a result and because of other economic realities, facilities will continue to increasingly invest in automation.  In addition, the need and approval of visitors at facilities and travel, in particular international, will be more closely scrutinized.

- Nathan Mirdamadi, senior food safety specialist, Commercial Food Sanitation LLC  

Traditional full service delis have already started coming back and will be the backbone of the deli. I believe growth will come from Grab n Go sections offering contactless hot pre-packaged meal solutions with Family Meal value over what a restaurant could offer. During the pandemic on-line grocery shopping increased to projected 2025 numbers and everything points that this will continue to climb. Grocery delis should look at promoting a hot meal section on their site where customers can simply click and pick up a hot meal or have a hot meal ready when they pick up their groceries.

- Brian Harding, key account manager, PFSbrands