By Emily Moquin
November 1, 2021 at 12:01 am ET
Thanksgiving 2021 will look more like last year’s than it will pre-pandemic celebrations, in terms of the size and use of more traditional recipes, but supply chain problems threaten to complicate the meal.
Thanksgiving’s big meal will be a small affair again this year: The COVID-19 pandemic is still keeping millions of Americans at home who typically travel for the holiday, and nearly two-thirds of those celebrating say they will share the meal with just their immediate family.
Smaller gatherings still mean ample opportunities for food and beverage marketers, albeit with some small adjustments to their messaging. All in all, 77 percent of those who plan to celebrate Thanksgiving will cook or help cook the big meal, which translates to a lot of decision-makers regarding what food and beverages make it onto the Thanksgiving table.
Despite headlines warning of supply chain issues, the public is showing few signs of concern when it comes to procuring their Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. A majority of Americans planning to cook at least part of the big meal plan to shop for most groceries in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, and 67 percent plan to get their turkey no more than a week ahead of the holiday.
While plans for smaller gatherings may mean less cause for concern about procuring enough or the right type of ingredients, consumers should expect smaller turkeys to run out as the holiday approaches — and to pay more for their ingredients. Grocery stores and food manufacturers would be wise to start directing shoppers to ingredient alternatives as supply chain issues worsen.
With roughly half (52 percent) of the country reporting that they feel anxious as of Oct. 9, now is not the time to mix things up, especially at the Thanksgiving table. Consumers will seek comfort in customary dishes and recipes for Thanksgiving, a holiday already deeply steeped in tradition.
Thanksgiving-related recipes, products and communications efforts should lean even more into family and tradition than usual. Food and beverage brands seeking to break through with new recipes or products should identify a tie-in with traditional ingredients, dishes, flavors or techniques — layering the new with the familiar is the best way to win consumers’ consideration. Brands can target recipes, products and messages featuring new Thanksgiving ideas to younger consumers, who are more open to a mix of recipe types.
Traditional recipes come from traditional sources, however, meaning that brands will be up against even fiercer competition to win cooks’ attention. Among Thanksgiving cooks, friends and family tops the list of recipe sources, followed by cookbooks and internet searches. In a declaration of their confidence in the kitchen, about 3 in 10 cooks don’t plan to use recipes at all.
Emily Moquin is the food & beverage analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where she conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises leaders in the food & beverage industry on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email email@example.com.