Top News/F&B Headlines:
- The Labor Department reported the loss of 10 million jobs in just two weeks. By shuttering businesses and forcing vast layoffs, the virus outbreak has in two weeks wiped out more jobs than the worst months of the 2008 financial crisis. Economists have warned that when people have to make choices in spending limited money, like skipping restaurant outings to pay for groceries, the knock-on effects could turn an acute economic crisis into a long recession.
- The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first test for coronavirus antibodies for use in the United States. Currently available tests are designed to find fragments of viral DNA indicating an ongoing infection. An antibody test, on the other hand, tells doctors whether a patient has ever been exposed to the virus — and, having recovered, now may have at least some immunity.
- Nearly 96% of the US population is under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order that is in effect or scheduled to go into effect, according to a CNN count. That percentage — 95.9% to be exact — translates to at least 315,077,834 people in the U.S.
The eleven states that do not have statewide stay-at-home orders include: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
- Fabri-Kal, a leading provider of foodservice and custom thermoformed packaging solutions, is now providing medical face shields for healthcare workers.
- The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) said March 31 that IDDBA 2020, scheduled for May 31-June 2 in Indianapolis, Indiana, is cancelled due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
- The US Department of Agriculture announced several actions effective April 2 to boost the US sugar supply, including the transfer of domestic sugar marketing allocations, the reassignment of unused domestic allocations to imports, and the increase of raw and refined sugar tariff-rate quotas for the current marketing year.
- Experts assure the US will not run out of food, but while the supply chain adjusts, there are concerns about trade and travel restrictions making imports difficult, as well as labor disruptions.
- Globally, however, there are more serious concerns about food security, especially in vulnerable countries who were already struggling with a shortage of food.
Consumer Search Behavior:
Census 2020 and Adam Schlesinger, who passed away yesterday due to COVID-related complications, both saw over a million searches, putting these terms at the top of the charts. They’re followed by Florida stay-at-home order, which was announced by the governor yesterday.
F&B-specific top searches show that searches for Chinese food are back at the top.
Heroes– who’s making the news for doing the right thing:
- Every furloughed worker in Front Burner’s system is eligible for a free meal per day from the restaurant they just left. And the compensation cuts allowed Front Burner to also cover 100 percent of medical benefits for everybody, furloughed or reduced (the company paid about two-third before, depending on the plan). Additionally, Front Burner opened the tip pool from takeout to give back to furloughed employees.
- Walk-On’s plans to serve meals out of a food truck—a free Classic Burger with Cheese and Fries—to furloughed hospitality workers from 2 to 5 p.m. March 31 and then on April 2. It also sees 1,000 meals as the initial potential. “With help from donors, we have the ability to lessen the impact that COVID-19 has caused, one meal at a time. We are all in this together,” they said in a statement.
- Chipotle Mexican Grill is the latest chain to offer free food for medical workers, with the goal of giving away up to 100,000 burritos to employees at healthcare facilities who register by April 2 to receive a box of 25 burritos. The deliveries will be made with DoorDash from April 6-10. Chipotle is also promoting its new queso blanco by offering it for free with online orders on April 2, which just so happens to be National Burrito Day.
The US Department of Agriculture announced several actions effective April 2 to boost the US sugar supply, including the transfer of domestic sugar marketing allocations, the reassignment of unused domestic allocations to imports, and the increase of raw and refined sugar tariff-rate quotas for the current marketing year.
If there was ever a time consumers needed some uplifting, it’s now. With city and state-wide lockdowns in place, people are stuck at home, grappling with the economy’s uncertain future and many, with unemployment. Positive messaging can go a long way, especially on social media, which has become one of our only ways to connect with the outside world. A recent study from Kandar found that consumers expect to hear positive stories from brands, and half of consumers said they think companies should speak about their brands in carefree and uplifting ways. Another noteworthy statistic from the study is that 78% of consumers reported they think brands should help them in their daily lives during the outbreak.
You may be wondering how to keep your messaging light when the current situation we all find ourselves in is anything but. Yesterday, we highlighted how T-Mobile was leveraging April Fool’s Day to give THANKS, not pranks, in their latest campaign. Focusing on gratitude is a simple way to spread positivity with your audience, whether it’s via a simple Instagram post, or through a more complex, multi-channel initiative à la T-Mobile. Just remember the importance of backing up these sentiments with action.
Another way to approach this brings us to today’s example: Stella Artois. Their new social media campaign features everyone’s favorite couple from the Netflix show Love is Blind, Lauren and Cameron Hamilton. With social distancing being the new norm, Stella Artois is playing off the fact these two got engaged before ever meeting face to face. The company will pay for the entire wedding of one couple that gets engaged during social distancing, and people can enter by sharing their engagement photo, video, or audio recording on Twitter with the hashtag #WeddingContest. Lauren and Cameron will be kicking it off with an Instagram Live tonight, sharing their tips for maintain a long-distance relationship during quarantine and answering fans’ questions. The Hamiltons will select the winning couple themselves. Stella Artois’ campaign accomplishes something unique: it gives people something to look forward to. The prospect of winning a wedding funded by the company is exciting and participating in this along with others creates a feeling of community and solidarity. Great job, Stella Artois!