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Pandemic-era cooking staple takes hit as Americans go out more

Nov. 8, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 8, 2022 at 3:35 p.m.

Aluminum foil runs through a production line at a foil mill.  (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)
Aluminum foil runs through a production line at a foil mill. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)
By Daniela Sirtori-Cortina Bloomberg

Aluminum foil, which got a boost from more at-home dining during the early stages of the pandemic when many eateries closed, is having a tougher time these days.

People are leaving their houses more, meaning “daily usage has dropped moderately,” Reynolds Consumer Products Chief Executive Officer Lance Mitchell said Tuesday on a call with analysts after reporting quarterly revenue that missed expectations.

Consumers are also turning to appliances such as air fryers and slow cookers, Mitchell said. Those gadgets don’t always require foil.

Even as pandemic restrictions fade and consumer mobility goes back to normal, the rising cost of eating out is giving homemade meals a boost. With that in mind, Reynolds rolled out discounts and advertising for foil that have helped consumption, the company said. The promotions will extend into the holiday season.

The holidays may be an occasion for dining out this year as consumers look for ways to combat the high prices of turkey, potatoes and other traditional items. Inflation in the “food-away-from-home” category is increasing at a slower rate than for groceries.

The Lake Forest, Illinois-based firm also said it hasn’t yet benefited from easing commodity costs. Aluminum prices have declined more than 16% this year amid a global slowdown in demand, surging energy prices across Europe and COVID-related shutdowns in China, the world’s biggest consumer of the material. For now, Reynolds is still making products with higher-priced aluminum it purchased earlier.

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