During this peculiar time when so many aspects of life are uncertain, assessing the present moment is difficult. Projecting what's to come is a fool's errand. However, several publications, data analysis and research firms have engaged in a diligent pursuit to describe the current resonating tone of the food and beverage industry.

An encouraging sign comes from the retail space as dozens of major retailers have pledged to hire workers to help manage significant uptick in business since earlier March. Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, Amazon and Albertsons are among the companies that have advertised hiring needs. Amazon alone announced that it will hire 100,000 workers in the US, while Walmart intends to add 150,000 new full-time, part-time and temporary positions.

A recent IRI report indicates that consumer spending at retail is surging. A statement from the company mentions: For the first time ever, total US multi-outlet sales topped $24.8 billion in a single week. Across the aisles, sales reached an unprecedented high in the week ending 3/15/2020, 62% higher than the same week the prior year. Center-of-store food and beverage driving 40% of all sales, although fresh foods including meat, produce and baked goods were also in-demand for at-home meal solutions.

From an industry perspective, the food and beverage manufacturing community has issued concern about the current economy, according to Clear Seas Research. Seventy-eight percent of respondents voiced concern about the economy, while 75% are worried about achieving business goals in the next three months. Food and beverage professionals indicated that 60% of active business is on schedule, while 56% of planned business remains committed.

Without surprise, the food and beverage industry is fundamentally engaged with employee health. According to the same Clear Seas Research, actions taken to maintain employee health include encouraging hand-washing (91%), promoting social distancing (86%) and increased frequency of sanitizing procedures (85%).

Download the full Clear Seas Research report.