In this upended year, America’s kitchens have become command central for working, schooling, Zooming, entertaining, and preparing significantly more meals and snacks than the pre-pandemic norm, finds The NPD Group. To combat these added stressors, consumers are acquiring and using new technologies to access foods and beverages or make them easier to prepare in the home, according to NPD’s recently released What’s Inside America’s Kitchens.
The adoption of technologies that enable more convenience in ordering food or meal preparation was accelerated by the pandemic. In ordering, the use of digital ordering for groceries and restaurant meals doubled from year-ago levels. By summer, 42% of U.S. adults reported shopping for groceries online at least once in the past 30 days compared to just 29% in the same period last year. Digital restaurant orders were growing rapidly pre-pandemic, and COVID accelerated it exponentially. For meal prep, voice assistants were used by 55% of U.S. meal preparers to get recipes, convert recipe measurements, keep time, order groceries, and help in other kitchen duties. Although most households don’t have Wi-Fi-enabled smart kitchen appliances, 42% of these households say they are interested in owning these devices.
“The lockdowns forced consumers to rethink their food acquisition and preparation strategies, and convenience took on a new meaning as households dealt with the increased pressures in the home,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Technology came to the rescue and helped ease the stress of obtaining and preparing food, and it’s highly unlikely that consumers will stop using these technologies when the pandemic ends. This is a behavior that food companies, manufacturers, and retailers will need to take into account when developing and marketing products.”