Coronavirus changes what we eat: Americans ‘crave comfort food’ | Instant News

Correction & Clarification: An earlier version of this story misstated the nature of the products sold by Keurig Dr. Pepper and CEO Robert Gamgort’s comments about them.

Let’s call this the judgment free zone until further notice.

Americans enjoy comforting food because a coronavirus pandemic keeps them locked in, eating sweet cereals, junk food, frozen pizza, and other items that may not be too healthy to help them get through a pandemic.

This trend is a reversal of national gravity towards more natural food in recent years, which has benefited products considered healthier.

But sudden bursts of stress, boredom and, in some cases, lack of alternatives have changed people’s habits, at least temporarily. Beware of the waist.

While heaps of toilet paper and hand sanitizers whenever they could find them, Americans took familiar items such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereals, carp crackers, baked goods and dairy products.

“People seem to want good food,” said Kai Bockmann, president of the maker of Saputo dairy products, who reported an increase in rope cheese sales.

Breakfast is back

Breakfast, in particular, enjoys a sudden awakening.

“I think families are turning to things like cereal to instill a sense of what is familiar, what is normal, something they believe in,” said Ricardo Fernandez, president of the US cereal business at General Mills, where cereal sales such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix and Lucky Charms are booming. “People who don’t usually have breakfast might come back for breakfast because their normal routine has been interrupted.”

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General Mills saw a surge in cereal demand.

Sales of milk, which is closely related to cereals, jumped 60% in the week ending March 22, compared to the previous year, according to IRI, a market research company based in Chicago. That increase marked a sudden reversal for products such as liquid milk, which has declined in popularity over the years.

Suddenly, the kitchen table was filled with parents and children who ate side by side.

“It’s a bit like that, if you want,” said Michael Dykes, CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, whose members include milk processors, farm stalls and retailers such as Kroger and Safeway. “They were all there without purpose, so they ate together as a family. They had breakfast together.”

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