Thinking about 2021 - SKUFood
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Thinking about 2021

How many people have you heard say, “2020 has been a year like no other, can’t wait to see it end.” I hate to be the bearer of bad news but just because we flip the calendar from December 31, 2020 to January 1, 2021 not much will change. The world will still be struggling to contain the pandemic and the food industry will need to find people to produce food to feed a population that is behaving very differently.

It is true as we enter a new year, we should be ready for it and despite the challenges of 2020, we need to be ready for 2021.

Perhaps a lot of your planning is in place which is great. It has been difficult to look too far forward so you might be planning for the new year but not as far out as in previous years when you had a better sense of the volume and the marketplace.

If you have any questions about next year, or anything else, our final SKUFood Recipe for Success, presented by FCC will be an open format where you can ask questions about any topic. We work hard to develop content that is relevant for you but there must be other issues you would like some input. Our round table will be on Wednesday November 18 at 2 pm Atlantic (1 pm Eastern)

To prepare for 2021 there are some considerations:

1. Your sales history

The year started off as you probably would have expected and then in March so much changed. Consider these fluctuations in volume and try to reduce the impact of any stockpiling or panic buying on your sales. If possible, you want to settle on what your baseline volume was in 2020. This would be your regular weekly volume, without ads or other fluctuations. On average food retail seems to have been up 10-15%, when compared to previous years. Obviously, every item performs differently and even the retailers are getting different results as consumer shopping patterns change.

It is important to look at your history by customer as some volume has shifted in the market.

2. People will continue to work at home

This change in consumers will likely continue for some time. People have learned how to work differently. It does have an impact on their eating, especially if your product can be consumed as part of lunch. There is also more snacking at home.

3. Travel and mobility will still be reduced

Most predictions say the airline industry will suffer for some time. Travel restrictions remain in place and the 14 day quarantine for any out of country travel really does limit the numbers. Events and other gatherings will be curtailed for early 2021.

Consumers will be home more looking for more interesting food. They will also need help to prepare it and enjoy it.

4. Online shopping will continue

We know consumers are buying more food online than ever. Estimates range from 12-15% of total food is being purchased online. This would include click and collect, direct selling and delivery.

Depending on which model you and your customers use this can impact your sales. This might also be an opportunity for incremental sales if your presence in this channel has been limited.

5. Restaurants and other food service will struggle

People are eating more at home which means restaurants and other food service establishments will struggle. If you sell into retail this means more volume but if you sell into food service, it means less. Many of these establishments have increased their capacity for delivery however the volume is still down.

6. Consumers are shopping differently

Most people want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. Items that relied on impulse sales really need to change their strategy. The best approach is to get on the shopping list before they go to the store or complete their online order.

It is time to shift investments from in store programs to opportunities where you can get their attention when they are making a shopping list or planning meals for the week.

Once you review your history and factor in the issues impacting your volume you should be able to put together a forecast for 2021. Once you have a starting point then you should ask your customer what they are thinking and if your assessment is in line with what they see. Retailers prefer suppliers who bring a starting point, not an open-ended question.

If you missed last week’s SKUFood Recipe for Success, presented by FCC, on winning the 4th quarter you can watch the recording here:

If you want to talk about the food industry you can send me an email at or give me a call at (902) 489-2900.