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These Foods Are Flying Off the Shelves During the Coronavirus Outbreak

By Rhian Hunt - Mar 23, 2020 at 3:05PM

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The coronavirus has apparently given American consumers an attack of the munchies.

While people are predictably buying packaged foods such as canned meat during the coronavirus outbreak, comfort foods are also high on the list of "pandemic purchases," according to a study by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Mondelez International (MDLZ 1.11%), owner of brands such as Cadbury chocolate, Oreo cookies, and belVita breakfast biscuits, reports a spike in purchases of its toothsome offerings since the run on groceries began. Other big snack-food winners include popcorn, pretzels, and potato chips.

Bowls of crackers, pretzels, potato chips, and popcorn.

Image source: Getty Images.

Nielsen data shows people are buying 30% more potato chips than before COVID-19, while pretzel sales jumped 47% and popcorn soared 48%. Information provided by Statista indicates that cookie variety packs are selling 20% more year over year, using weekly data from mid-March. Salty snacks have gained close to 15% and cheese snacks more than 11%.

An old emergency dietary standby, Spam, also got a major boost, according to its manufacturer, Hormel Foods (HRL 1.85%). Spam was key to Hormel's rise as an international food company, with approximately 150 million pounds purchased by the government during World War II to feed not only the U.S. armed services, but also to serve as Lend-Lease aid to American allies like the Soviet Union. The new crisis has seen Spam sales jump 37% so far.

Other dietary staples are also selling fast. Purchases of cow's milk skyrocketed 32% between March 8 and March 14. Meat and potatoes saw strong gains in mid-March, too. Several important food sector companies, including Kraft Heinz (KHC 0.66%), Campbell Soup Company (CPB 1.06%), and General Mills (GIS 6.35%) are reporting 10% to 20% weekly growth in sales, driven by purchases of packaged foods, canned soups, and other foods suitable for storage.

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Stocks Mentioned

Mondelez International, Inc. Stock Quote
Mondelez International, Inc.
MDLZ
$62.05 (1.11%) $0.68
General Mills, Inc. Stock Quote
General Mills, Inc.
GIS
$74.72 (6.35%) $4.46
Hormel Foods Corporation Stock Quote
Hormel Foods Corporation
HRL
$47.96 (1.85%) $0.87
Campbell Soup Company Stock Quote
Campbell Soup Company
CPB
$48.40 (1.06%) $0.51
Kraft Heinz Intermediate Corporation II Stock Quote
Kraft Heinz Intermediate Corporation II
KHC
$37.98 (0.66%) $0.25

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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