Despite the overwhelming toll the pandemic has taken on the food and beverage industry, companies are still finding ways to innovate and market new products. But unfortunately, some brands and products have fallen by the wayside this year, in part due to the pandemic, but mostly as a result of lagging sales.
Even though a food brand may have appeared to be popular among consumers, companies sometimes choose to discontinue a product if it is not as profitable as others produced under the same brand. Companies may also choose to retire a product if its profit margins are too low or it doesn’t generate the revenue that projections called for.
One recent example is Coca-Cola’s original diet soda brand Tab, which will be discontinued by the end of 2021. Debuting in 1963, Tab gained a cult following of “TaBaholics” and saw most of its success in the 1970s and 1980s. But since the introduction of Diet Coke in 1982, Tab sales have steadily declined.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola plans to cut more than half of its 500 brands, with Tab being one of the oldest and most recognizable. The beverage giant partially blames the pandemic for Tab’s retirement but stated that it had plans to update its beverage lineup well before COVID-19. The pandemic just served as a push for leadership to move faster.
Social distancing guidelines and supply chain issues also forced some manufacturers to stop production on certain goods to focus on the most profitable, easy-to-produce items. One such item that vanished from grocery store shelves this year was Amy’s Kitchen’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza. The organic food maker cut its offerings from 228 to 71 products during the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.
While the vegetable pizza made a resurgence on store shelves after the company rejigged its manufacturing line, some companies are making permanent changes to their offerings. General Mills Inc., the maker of Progresso soups, has cut down its soup offerings by nearly half, from about 90 to 50. Other massive companies, including Kellogg Co. and ConAgra Brands, are focusing on SKU rationalization – a term in the industry for cutting down product lines or stock-keeping units.
It isn’t just food manufacturers cutting back. This trend is also prevalent in the restaurant industry, with chains like Subway, IHOP and McDonald’s scrapping multiple menu items. McDonald’s recently discontinued its beloved McGriddle, alongside other breakfast items like bagels, croissants, danishes and their Big Breakfast.
Perhaps one day these discontinued items will ignite a sense of nostalgia among consumers, but for the time being, they are the victims of declining sales in combination with production challenges during the pandemic.