Americans sweet on chocolate, baked goods during pandemic, study finds

National News

Chocolate is on display in a shop on March 30, 2015 in Abidjan. (Credit: SIA KAMBOU/AFP via Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) — “I sure could go for some chocolate right now.”

If you’ve said something similar lately, especially as the pandemic continues, you’re not alone.

Americans have given free rein to their sweet tooth since the pandemic started, according to findings by NCsolutions, a leading advertising effectiveness company.

From Feb. 24 through Sept. 30, considered the pandemic buying period in the study, spending on confections, baked goods and baking supplies was 9% higher when compared to the same period in 2019, NCsolutions found.

“Though Americans joked about needing even more chocolate as COVID-19 upended routines, the data support the lighthearted commentary,” the company said in a statement.

Between March 11 and March 21, which NCSolutions defined as the “extreme-buying phase,” consumers spent 26% more on chocolate candy specifically. Over the entire pandemic period, spending on the sweet treat continued to be 4% higher than in 2019.

In addition to chocolate, the category of confections, baked goods and baking supplies includes non-chocolate candy, desserts, baking mixes, candy, cookies, frozen baked goods, ice cream, marshmallows, pie crusts and mixes, pie fillings, puddings and gelatins, snack cakes and sugar itself.

“Traditionally, spending on sweets during this time of year rises. Sweets such as chocolate, cakes and pies are a significant element of holiday celebrations, starting with Halloween and continuing through New Year’s Day,” NCSolutions CEO Linda Dupree said in a statement. “This annual trend, coupled with the pandemic-driven sustained interest in cooking and baking, indicates that consumer enthusiasm for the category will remain strong.”

Throughout the pandemic, spending on other sweet and dessert items, especially baking products, have been consistently higher.

“Americans turned to baking their own cakes and cookies, and sales of baking mixes and sugar surged early in the pandemic,” the company said.

Compared to the same time last year, sales of baking mixes were 38% higher and sugar sales were 26% higher. Spending on pie filling was up 35%, and it was 23% higher on pie crusts and mixes. During the extreme-buying stage, sales of both baking mixes and sugar saw significant spikes, with mixes surging 159% and sugar jumping 118%.

There was also more interest in prepared food items. Americans purchased more frozen baked goods over the pandemic period, up 25% as compared to 2019, with spending increases also on desserts (19%), ice cream (16%) and cookies (9%).

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve noticed a tidal wave of nostalgia sweep over the nation, as consumers buy more comfort foods and seek the sweet treats they need for their pandemic sweet tooth,” Dupree said. “Sweets — both homemade and store-bought — will continue to be part of the comfort food mix.”

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