While the coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought wide swings in dairy markets, it has brought an even wider list of questions about the future. The most prominent one being: What will the fall look like? Can we expect a second wave or a more “normal” buying pattern to return?
These questions both matter when considering the future of dairy sales. In particular, butter and cheese are strongly affected in the fourth quarter of the year by holiday purchases. A few weeks ago, dairy economists speculated that a second wave might severely injure holiday-based milk sales in the fall and winter.
During the July 9 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, 210 Analytics’ Anne-Marie Roerink took a stab at addressing that same concern based on consumer behaviors during holidays that have already occurred this spring and summer.
“If you think about when the pandemic started, we’ve had Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and the Fourth of July,” Roerink said. “I will tell you that every single one of them has been a powerhouse.”
While consumers aren’t traveling as they take precautions to address coronavirus, they continue to find ways to celebrate important occasions.
“It is actually the backyard barbecue with the small immediate family that is helping grocery a lot. Where normal weeks are sitting about 10% to 15% above that same week last year, the holiday weeks have been incredible,” Roerink elaborated.
According to her evaluation of data from the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association, Roerink is hopeful that fall and winter celebrations will continue on even though they may look different this year. Roerink’s concern comes a little sooner than that.
“My concern right now is that we have a long stretch all the way to Labor Day until our next holiday. What is going to happen with football tailgating parties and so forth?” she questioned. “Again, this might actually help the retail channels because instead of being out tailgating or going out to a bar watching the game, people are now going to be at home.”
Her concerns stretch into how consumers will choose to celebrate occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. What they are buying is much different than months ago.
“But what I’m seeing for instance on the bakery side is that we’re not selling those half sheet of cakes or the 24-count cupcakes because people don’t need as many treats as we did when kids were at school and celebrating their birthdays,” she said. “We need to make sure that we recognize that everyday life and holiday life has changed and as a result, what people buy has changed as well.”
An ongoing series of events
DairyLivestream will air twice each month for the remainder of this year. The next broadcast will be on Wednesday, July 22 at 11 a.m. CST. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.