Could the iconic Easter egg someday hatch into an Easter gift basket? The U.S. food gifting industry is banking on it, as food gift companies seek more holidays and special occasions to expand into, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the new report Food Gifting in the U.S.: Consumer and Corporate, 6th Edition.
Packaged Facts forecasts overall U.S. consumer and corporate food gifting sales will approach $20 billion in 2018, up 4% from 2017. The market benefits from consumers giving food gifts to others—as well as to themselves—across a multitude of occasions ranging from anniversaries to graduations to birthdays. Among seasonal holidays, winter holidays such as Christmas remain a food gifting mainstay: more than half of those who have purchased food gifts for others in the last 12 months have done so for the winter holidays. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are also popular food gifting holidays.
Roughly 26 million consumers—or 20% of food gifters—gave food gifts to others during Easter, putting the religious holiday just below Father’s Day in terms of food gifting participation. With such relatively modest participation, why are food gifting companies so eager to expand into Easter? Frankly, it’s because there are billions of dollars at stake as Easter has proven to be a holiday during which consumers are willing to spend. Those celebrating Easter last year spent an estimated $18 billion on products spanning eight categories, including candy, gifts, food, and flowers, with $152 spent per celebrant. Food and candy comprised more than $6 billion of consumers’ Easter spending.
Further, some 81% of adults age 18 and up (205 million people) celebrated Easter in 2017, almost eight times as many who have purchased an Easter food gift for someone. This suggests that there is a substantial untapped market for food gift companies to target.
Packaged Facts also counsels that for holidays such as Easter with religious roots, food gifting marketers may need to adapt to shifts in religious affiliations over time. For example, the percentage of adults identifying as Christian Church Disciples of Christ has grown 11% during the 2008-2017 period, and growth among non-Christian groups (Muslim and Hindu, for example) has also been strong. Conversely, some 22% of adults say they have no religious preference, up 40% during 2008-2017. These trends provide opportunity to target accordingly.
Packaged Facts also advises remembering to market products not just for kids, but also for adults. For example, look at how (chocolate company) Green & Black has targeted adults in the home with its fair trade Organic Easter Tasting Collection.
“Food gifting marketers need to continue inventing and reinventing food gifts and to keep a watchful eye for ways to broaden holiday-related purchase rationales,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.
Hallmark, traditionally known for gift cards, is just one company already on the path seeking opportunities to expand in the food gift market. The company has expanded into several food categories over time, including chocolate candy, baking and drink mixes, and tea. It even has namesake candy products, a smart way to build brand awareness among new customers and to harness brand power among current ones. Hallmark is even offering Sour Gummi Bunnies Candy as one of at least a dozen different Hallmark-branded Easter candies available for the 2018 season.