In a post-pandemic economy, there is much to mourn. Consumer prices in March jumped 8.5% from the previous year, the fastest pace since 1981, according to Labor Department data. Much of that inflation has been brought on by supply chain disruptions driven by the pandemic.
Marketing Daily recently interviewed Davey Krishnakumar, the president of client engagement at IRI, about the current economic environment. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Marketing Daily: Is this current period of high inflation reminiscent of any other periods?
Davey Krishnakumar: Yeah, 2008, 2009. The Great Recession is another time when there was quite a bit of inflation. People lost jobs and food inflation was high, so people ate at home.
This one is slightly different in the sense of loss of jobs. In fact, unemployment is pretty low and wage growth is there. It may not catch up to inflation and because of COVID, people have been bottled up. So all the travel-related companies have been announcing very bullish outlooks for the coming months. People are out and about.
Marketing Daily: Your data shows that in the last year or so people have begun eating out at pre-pandemic levels.
Krishnakumar: And [there are] enough value players in food away from home, right? There are also the challenges of inflation, cost inflation and labor inflation. I believe for all of these reasons the migration to food away from home will continue to happen.
You've seen Coke and Pepsi talk about that. You've seen the travel demand—it's pretty high. All the headlines are about people as they travel, they eat out and then offices are opening, reopening, some reopen more fully than others. But as work shifts from home to back to office environment at least for part of the week, we do expect food [consumption] away from home to pick up.
Marketing Daily: Do you see COVID as pretty much over?
Krishnakumar: I don't know whether it's over or not, but I think we all have learned to live with COVID. So I think COVID is not that feared factor that it was in 2020 or even in early parts of 2021, right, with the with shots for children and boosters available, I think, you know, like some parts of Asia which kind of got used to working, you know, living with the avian through its etcetera.
Well, I think we are kind of turning that corner here in the US, barring any unforeseen you know outbreaks of you know some variant but it it's become more the endemic than a pandemic I think now.