Top News/F&B Headlines:
- Hospital officials, public health experts and medical examiners say that official tallies of Americans said to have died in the pandemic do not capture the overall number of virus-related deaths, leaving the public with a limited understanding of the outbreak’s true toll. Limited resources and a patchwork of decision making from one state or county to the next have contributed to the undercount. Doctors now believe that some deaths in February and early March were likely misidentified as influenza or only described as pneumonia.
- After weeks of allowing cruise ship passengers who were exposed to the coronavirus but had no symptoms to travel home on commercial flights with nothing more than a temperature check, the CDC is now requiring cruise companies to charter flights to return passengers to their home cities. The move came just as Carnival Corporation was set to disembark about 1,000 passengers off the Coral Princess, which docked in Miami on Saturday. Two people died on the ship, and at least seven passengers and five crew members tested positive for Covid-19.
- White House officials warned Americans to brace for a terrible week ahead of “death” and “sadness,” as the number of confirmed cases in the country surged past the combined totals of detected infections in Italy and Spain, the two hardest-hit countries in Europe. With testing still lagging in many parts of the United States, and with as many as half of all those infected showing no symptoms but still able to spread the virus, the more than 336,000 confirmed cases almost inevitably understates the enormity of the crisis.
- The whole of the hospitality industry is suffering right now, including catering. Several caterers are urging their clients to hold onto their June dates, unless a government mandate says otherwise, as a way to hold onto faith. While caterers tend to have acts of God clauses within their insurance, it excludes viruses and bacteria, meaning they aren’t receiving any money back from all cancellations. The only saving grace, as of now, is that caterers operate on a lower overhead than restaurants and clients have been quick to reschedule for a September date.
- The Wisconsin Dairy Alliance says dairy farmers are dumping milk into fields and down drains, retailers are limiting consumers’ dairy purchases, and farmers are left questioning if the milk they produce will be get picked up or if they will even get paid.
Panic-buying and stockpiling by consumers has emptied supermarket shelves of certain foods, creating the appearance of a problem. But those shelves are soon restocked, and the frenzy is expected to subside as supply chains adjust and home refrigerators run out of room. The COVID pandemic has different ways it could impact food prices and dinner tables across the U.S., though. The drastic reduction in restaurant dining could lead to cheaper butter while also putting some farms in financial despair– certain products don’t transition well to solely retail, and butter is one of them. Unpredictable consumer shopping surges could cause more produce trucks to be delayed or redirected at a loss. The virus also could infect scores of farmworkers, adding to a series of concerns from farm to table. Overall, experts still remain confident in the food supply chain’s resilience.
Consumer Search Behavior:
Today’s top searches consist of almost solely names and surprisingly only one of the top terms is related to the COVID outbreak. Ezra Miller saw the most searches due to video footage that shows him choking. The one popular search term that isn’t a public figure belongs to the new short-form video streaming app, Quibi– short for “quick bites,” it features videos under 10 minutes in length and is designed exclusively for smartphones and tablets.
F&B-specific top searches show a weekend crossword puzzle must have stumped a whole lot of people, as “french breakfast food crossword” and “french breakfast food” top the list.
Heroes– who’s making the news for doing the right thing:
- Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $25 million to support organizations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the company has pledged to hire 150,000 new workers through the end of May to meet the increasing demand of customers. Walmart also plans to pay a cash bonus ranging from $150–$300 to hourly workers who worked for the company by March 1.
- Ralph Lauren, the American lifestyle brand, has pledged $10 million to coronavirus relief efforts, the biggest donation by a luxury company thus far. The grant will go to the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Emergency Assistance Foundation, and its Pink Pony Fund, which supports a network of international cancer institutions. It is also starting production on 250,000 face masks and 25,000 isolation gowns for health care workers. Additionally, the firm gifted an undisclosed amount to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to help fashion designers hit by the economic downturn.
- The maker of massage therapy guns, Theragun, will be donating a portion of all sales to support Feeding America, in addition to similar charities across the globe. Each Theragun sold will provide 100 meals to people across America with a goal of donating 250,000 meals. Theragun is also donating devices to hospital break rooms across the country to help those on the front lines alleviate tension and stress.
According to NewsCred Insights, 30-40% of marketing budget is allocated for trade show sponsorship, travel, expenses, attendance, and collateral. With the quick shift the epidemic has caused within the industry, mission-oriented marketing continues to act as a safe haven. As consumers continue to identify best practices when it comes to sanitation and health, companies like simplehuman are able to promote their mission and products. As we can see below, the use of celebrity endorsements adds a beneficial layer of name recognition in order to boost product sales and drive to relief efforts.
Other companies can look to simplehuman as a leader in pairing their mission and product with new, climate-appropriate messaging in order to continue to sell products and contribute to relief efforts.
Home products brand simplehuman reports it is seeing a surge in demand for its touch-free products, like trash cans and soap dispensers as consumers are more mindful of virus-carrying germs. The Torrance, California-based retailer is donating such products, as well as sanitizer, to needful charities across the country and asking consumers to submit their own ideas for which organizations need product the most. As part of the campaign, simplehuman is partnering with influencers and celebrities including DJ Khaled and Elizabeth Banks, who will begin posting about their involvement. Banks will be donating simplehuman pumps and soap to hospitals in her hometown and writing on Instagram about the effort. Khaled is working with nonprofit Direct Relief on donations to hospitals in New York and Miami.