Shopping and consumption habits have been different depending on the stage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States. 

As COVID-19 plowed through the country in March and April, nearly every state issued stay-home orders. Restaurants shut down and people shut in, and short, frequent grocery trips halted in favor of infrequent ventures to stock up. 

“There were a limited number of grocery trips that each household was doing,” said Haq Chaudary, chief commercial officer and general manager, Gold Standard Baking. “Picking up a 14-oz Danish and having it over a number of days was more appealing than a single-serve.”

As people reemerge from their homes, shopping trips are becoming more frequent once again. However, many are still cautious as COVID-19 cases are still on the rise. And it’s impacting how they want their food packaged.

Smaller portions will come back into favor for several reasons, not the least of which will be food safety — or at least the perception of it. Sure, clean label is a huge trend from a formulating perspective, but now, consumers also want a literal clean label … as in sanitary packaging. 

“The pandemic has impacted the importance of offering products that are prepackaged and individually wrapped,” said Yianny Caparos, president, The Bakery Cos. “A clean, clear label, something that’s sealed so when the consumer buys it, they know no one’s touched it since the operation.” 

Gone may be the days of grab-and-go bins, open clamshell displays and hotel lobby continental breakfasts. 

“One thing we’re coming up with is new packaging mechanisms where our products have that perception of safety associated with them,” Mr. Chaudary said.

The pandemic has changed almost everything for nearly everyone. But for many, it also solidified the most important areas of focus. 

“The pandemic has not caused us to alter our focus,” Mr. Caparos said. “For packaging, it’s about portion size and safety of the individual wrap. People want to trust the food safety attributes that a manufacturer puts into their product.”

This article is an excerpt from the July 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on pastries, click here.