Open for Business: Optimism & Change ahead for the US Food Industry

by Nov 17, 2020Editorial

It’s been quite a month for us here in the US. It’s been quite the year, for that matter!

Despite the ongoing battle with a global pandemic, a deeply polarizing election, and weathering the storm of three economic crises, the US economy is on the rise again. As of Monday, the stock market S&P 500 indicator hit a second consecutive record, and the Nasdaq closed on Monday at third highest in history. A palpable sense of optimism is in the air.

The primary driver for the latest economic upturn is the positive news of two COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon. The hope that this news brings Americans and the world is huge; and the implication for our industry is significant too. Just last week, fifteen food & beverage trade groups asked President Trump for priority once the vaccine is developed and distributed. The request for “prioritizing vaccinations for food, agriculture, retail, and CPG workers will be a key intervention to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating.”

Undoubtedly, there’s still lots of uncertainty when the coronavirus will be brought under control, and as it does it will be hard for food & beverage manufacturers to see the same growth retail figures posted in 2020. But shifts towards more in-home consumption, more online food purchasing and increased household penetration of premium brands will keep the market growing for the foreseeable future. Upward trends will be driven by continued focus on supply chain to keep products on shelf, innovation to maintain consumer interest, and new entrants to challenge incumbents and continue to disrupt categories across the board.

The secondary driver for economic upturn in the US is the upcoming political shift ahead, accompanied by a hope for more social stability… I’m looking forward to no more tweets about new tariffs, trade agreements in limbo, and a genuine national-level COVID-19 mitigation strategy.  All should combine to improve trade and provide a more favorable climate for business growth. Regardless of political climate, however, American consumers still have the most power – continuing to drive our industry through demand for choice and through the power of their wallets.

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us – globally and in the US. But we’re really optimistic about the landscape ahead, particularly for the food & beverage industry which continues to grow and evolve faster than ever before.