America’s pandemic snack: Lay’s potato chips

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
May 07, 2020, 6:15 PM GMT+0

Stuck at home with nowhere to go, many Americans can’t help but snack more, and many are grabbing a bag of Lay’s potato chips.

Since mid-March — when the World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a pandemic — the number of Americans likely to purchase Lay’s has increased by 35 percent.

Right now, 18 percent of the American population say they’re likely to purchase a bag of Lay’s, the highest that figure has been in three years (that figure is even slightly higher at 19 percent among those who are in-market to buy snacks in the next 30 days).

The Lay’s brand was already a snack-sector leader among brands tracked by YouGov and that data also shows modest increase in purchase intent for potato chips in general.

Not only is this good news for the Lay’s brand, it is also a bit of good news for those further up the supply chain.

The pandemic has left potato farmers with at least a billion pounds of potatoes they can’t sell as production of French-fries destined for fast-food restaurants slows down. YouGov data that tracks fast-food sector performance throughout the COVID-19 crisis shows intent to purchase across the whole sector was down 11 percentage points compared to the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, separate YouGov data shows how many Americans are snacking more. A survey of more than 9,000 American adults showed more than a third (36%) of the country has been snacking more during the pandemic.

Younger Americans, age 18-24, are more likely to to be snacking more (45%), as are those age 25-34 (44%). The survey also shows women (39%) are more likely than men (32%) to be snacking more.

As many Americans remain under shelter-in-place orders, many are suffering from boredom. According to ongoing YouGov Profiles data, 61 percent of Americans say they sometimes eat out of boredom, not out of hunger.

Methodology: Purchase intent for Lay’s is based on an average daily sample size of 1,661 US adults on a four-week moving average. Purchase intent for the potato chip sector is based on an average daily sample size of 14,761 US adults on a four-week moving average. The sector includes: Baked Lay's, Cape Cod, Doritos, Herr's, Kettle Brand Chips, Lay's, Pringles, Tostitos, Utz, and Wise. Pandemic snacking was based on a sample of 9,434 US adults between May 5 - 6, 2020.

Image: Getty

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