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Food Industry News Round-Up: October 16

1. Continued Growth for Online Grocery

According to research from FMI and Nielsen, presented in a recent Supermarket News webinar, about 21% of consumers tried online grocery shopping for the first time as part of a 300% increase in online grocery sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial data shows online grocery retaining those gains, with shoppers saying they’ll continue to shop online (27% for delivery and 24% for pickup) and online spending continuing to increase even after the COVID-19 related peak spending period in the latter half of March. While the economic impacts of the pandemic have some people indicating they may spend less on groceries overall, online sales so far seem to be here to stay. 

Read more on Supermarket News here: Retention of online growth looks strong, but a COVID-19 recession looms ahead 

2. Navel Orange Volume to Dip Slightly as Season Approaches

As harvesting season approaches for California’s navel oranges, the crop is expected to see slightly lower volume than last year. Current predictions estimate that the crop will yield 84 million 40-pound cartons of fruit, down 5% from last season. Recent fires in the region are not expected to impact the crop’s quality, which is expected to be good. Navel oranges have also enjoyed a big increase in sales during the pandemic, with summer consumption of the fruit up almost 40% this year. California growers plan to pick navel oranges from mid-October through June. 

Read more on The Packer here: Navel crop ready to kick off 

3. Ghost Kitchens See Meteoric Rise Amid Pandemic

Ghost kitchens have seen a huge acceleration through the pandemic as a potential way forward for a foodservice landscape focused on pickup and delivery options. While the segment was already on the rise before COVID-19, as food delivery sales more than doubled between 2014–2019, the pandemic has pushed huge increases in delivery spending. According to research by the NPD Group, delivery sales increased a whopping 70% during March. This has caused an explosive increase in ghost kitchens, with some saying the segment has accelerated five years in the U.S.

Read more on Restaurant Dive here: Mapping the rise of ghost kitchens 

4. Meijer to Offer Grocery Pickup for Free

Meijer has announced it will make grocery pickup free just in time for the holiday season. The move eliminates service fees for pickup on purchases above $50 and opens the service to use by non-members. Eliminating service fees for grocery pickup is the latest move by the retailer to increase its digital engagement with customers and offer multiple avenues for safely and conveniently shopping at its stores during the pandemic. 

Read more on Progressive Grocer here: Meijer Eliminates Pickup Service Fees

5. U.S. Exports See Slight Increase for Fruit, Decrease for Vegetables

According to data released by the USDA last week, U.S. exports in fresh produce present mixed results for the 12-month period ending in August, 2020. Exports of fresh fruit increased slightly, up 1% for a total $4.38 billion. Meanwhile, exports of fresh vegetables decreased slightly over the same period, down 5% for a total $2.57 billion. Cucumbers and oranges saw the greatest increases at 15% and 10%, respectively. The greatest decrease came for onions and pears, which fell 24% and 17%, respectively. 

Read more on The Packer here: U.S. fresh fruit exports up slightly, vegetables down 


Interested in more industry news? Check back on the iTrade blog as we publish our takes on the most important stories in the food and beverage industry every week. 

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