What you need to know

Even prior to the pandemic, the cracker category struggled to grow sales, with more than a half decade of little growth. With the pandemic’s pantry stocking, sheltering in place and ongoing reduction in out-of-home activities, the category saw a 7% sales increase in 2020. A controlled virus will herald lifestyle adjustments that begin to resemble pre-COVID-19 routines and behaviors, also marking a return to pre-pandemic category sales performance. The category does face challenges among consumers, notably in the areas of concerns about freshness and texture/crunch. Furthermore, brands capable of leveraging organic and healthier claims will resonate with consumers in the wake of the pandemic.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer behavior and the crackers market.

  • Attributes of an ideal and premium cracker.

  • Barriers to cracker consumption.

  • Attitudes toward crackers.


This Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Crackers – US, February 2020 and preceding Reports of the same title.

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has divided the cracker category into four segments:

  • Crackers with fillings

  • Graham crackers

  • Saltine crackers

  • “Other” crackers (including butter crackers, cheese crackers, wheat crackers, water crackers, breadsticks, matzoh crackers, etc)

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May, and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, non-essential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations. Food spending shifted largely toward at-home options, as much of the country saw restaurants shift their focus to takeout.

Although all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place, some rolled back to varying levels of restrictions to address the continued spread of infections. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux well into 2021, when vaccinations are more progressed, and the virus is under more control.

Economic and other assumptions

The analysis provided reflects an estimated range of the market’s prospects in light of the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Our economic assumptions are based on CBO 10-year economic projections released on July 2, 2020.

  • Unemployment will remain elevated in 2020 and early 2021 before incrementally improving over the next five years.

  • US GDP will decline 5.8% in 2020 and increase 4% in 2021, followed by continuous increases until 2025.

Consumer confidence stands at 76.9 as of November 2020. This is a 5.2-point improvement from its low of 71.8 in April, indicating that consumer confidence is on an upswing and could improve throughout the rest of the year. However, it is also sharply below its October 2020 level of 81.8, reflecting the surge in COVID-19 cases and victims in many states in the fall. Confidence will likely dip further as the winter months see those caseloads rise further, but with multiple vaccines rolling out, consumer confidence should rebound relatively quickly..

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