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Friday, March 5, 2021

Pantry pileup

U.S. sales of canned and frozen foods and shelf staples like pasta are rising as consumers stock up due to virus fears. Nielsen noted a shift into “pantry preparation” mode after President Donald Trump told people to stock up on essentials on Feb. 26. Sales of flu remedies and household cleaners soared; so did sales of dried beans and canned meat. For some, the new coronavirus causes only mild symptoms, like fever or a cough. But for others it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. It’s a rare boost for packaged food companies, which have struggled as consumers gravitate toward less processed foods. Campbell Soup Co. increased production to keep up with retailers’ orders. Others poised to profit include Kellogg, which makes Eggo waffles; General Mills, which makes Progresso soup; and Conagra Brands, which makes Birds Eye frozen vegetables. This week, shares of Campbell and General Mills were trading close to their 52-week highs. But Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard thinks the trend will be temporary. In a note to investors, Howard said she doesn’t expect the buying spree to impact full-year earnings — yet.

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