It was the 12 months of the baking and hydrangea enterprise

PITTSBURGH – Courtney Blood was better prepared than many when panic buying was springtime consumed buyers.

The Chatham University food service manager for Parkhurst Dining Services and Richland’s mother of two aren’t the type to wait until she runs out of food to sprint to the grocery store. “When I finish my last or second pound,” she says, “I start a shopping list.”

When dozens of Pittsburghers clogged the aisles of grocery stores, panicking everything from boxes of pasta and rice bags to cans of beans and soup, she comforted herself with the knowledge that her family was already well prepared.

Her husband Jeffrey had been following the news of the novel coronavirus since February and realized early on that people could start stocking up on supplies. This is Pittsburgh, after all, where even the hint of an approaching blizzard can cause a crazy shot of milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper to top up.

Perhaps, he said to his wife, it was time to join the Costco warehouse club and do some shopping.

Their membership on February 29th turned out to be a coincidence.

“People started buying items across the grocery store in a panic and many manufacturers had limited production capacity,” said Dick Roberts, spokesman for Giant Eagle, in an email. These factors, which were linked to a tight supply chain, affected almost all food categories and led to the short-term unavailability of a large number of everyday and specialty products. Sugar, flour, frozen vegetables, canned and dried beans, ground beef – many of the staple foods we suddenly take for granted were in short supply.

Canned food was uniquely affected, with demand outpacing the growing season and the time of harvest determining supplies for many products such as canned pumpkin and summer fruits and vegetables.

When coronavirus outbreaks occurred in meat and poultry processing plants in April and May that led to closure, meat was also a temporary “get”.

Given their foresight, the Bloods were in good shape. Along with several gallons of milk, which they had bought “just in case” and divided into smaller containers, the couple’s freezer contained butter and various cuts of meat, bacon, which would get them through many home cooking days to come.

Blood, who started baking sourdough while on maternity leave last year, even had an elusive pot of granular gold – a 25-pound bag of yeast. Over time, many people baked bread during the pandemic, causing yeast to disappear along with flour, various cuts of meat, and other staple foods.

An unexpected source for many of these items was Asian grocery stores. Nishat Kazi, co-owner of the Rajbhog Indian Market and Cafe in Cranberry, is among those who saw her customer base grow during the pandemic. People who never knew the store was there suddenly came to get flour, milk and yogurt, she says. They also found a plentiful supply of lentils, rice, onions, peppers, spices, and herbs such as coriander and mint – most of them at better prices than major grocery chains.

Indian food is mostly lentil and rice heavy, and “because we sell so much more of it, it’s cheaper,” she says.

Other buyers were simply adventurous. As more meals were prepared at home, people expanded their taste buds and bought unfamiliar ingredients. “People were trying new foods,” she says, and Rajbhog was happy to do so. Kazi even added sliced ​​whole bread, regular sugar, and more milk to inventory.

“The pandemic helped us understand that there is a market for that too,” she said.

Lorraine Adams Hamman and her mother Minda Adams took matters into their own hands when things got difficult. When the price of butter skyrocketed, they made it in their Mapletown kitchen. They used a 100-year-old cranked glass jug and gallons of cream from the Springhouse dairy in Eighty-Four, Pennsylvania. Even her 3 year old son, Greer, did a lot of work.

Hamman also made her own ricotta cheese for Manicotti when she couldn’t find it in stores after watching a how-to video on YouTube. “It’s amazing how simple some things are and how we got used to that convenience,” she says.

The women live half a mile apart on Greene County’s beef farm, which has been family-owned for generations, and bring farmer’s sensitivity and practicality to nearly everything they do. When meat was not available in stores in the spring, all they had to do was go to their cellar to get it. Not only do you have a supply of sausage and ground beef, but also a large supply of canned tomatoes, beans, pumpkin and other canned vegetables.

“We joke that we have enough to eat for 10 years,” says Hamman.

American ingenuity was just a positive thing that emerged from the coronavirus, says Kobi Gershoni, co-founder and chief research officer at Signals Analytics, which provides data and market research for the food and beverage industry. Consumers have changed their behavior not only in the kitchen but also in the grocery store. Many of these changes were digital.

Ecommerce platforms like Shopify allow users to set up online stores to share supplies with their friends and neighbors, while Instacart made grocery delivery and collection extremely easy for those who didn’t want to shop in person. The service, which came to the Pittsburgh region in November 2018 and was supplied for Shop ‘n Save, Aldi and Costco Wholesale, among others, rose from 200,000 buyers at the beginning of March to over 500,000 domestically. A dedicated Senior Support Service has recently been launched to help seniors with their first attempt at online grocery delivery.

Most grocery stores as well as restaurants now offer roadside pickups for shoppers. Almost a third of US households – about 39.5 million – used online food delivery or grocery collection services in the early days of the pandemic. This is the result of a survey conducted by the food marketing and sales consultancy Brick Meets Click and the online order fulfillment platform. ShopperKit.

People who were fed up with cooking all the time or who found it stressful flocked to the meal set delivery services in turn. According to the Wall Street Journal, HelloFresh almost doubled its US customer base to 2.6 million in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Blue Apron also reported higher demand.

“It’s been a year of transformation,” says Gershoni, not only because of the acceleration of change, but also because of the creativity it requires.

Many Americans, he adds, have also become more conscious of their food choices. The coronavirus highlighted the importance of good hygiene and health, which in turn led to a greater awareness of product fairness.

Buyers have started to pay more attention to what they are buying and what is on the label in terms of fair trade, environmental awareness, and organic and natural materials.

“For a lot of people it was a journey to get to know yourself,” he says.

(c) 2020 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

Comments are closed.