Canning on the Rise with Younger Generations, Suburban Areas

Canning is not just for rural grandparents anymore. Americans of all ages and areas are returning to their roots and canning to capture fresher, more affordable flavors. consumer-spend-insightsFifty-​five percent of American home cooks plan to can this year, and of those, nearly 97% will be canning more than previous years, according to a recent survey of its community by Allrecipes​.com.

With nearly half of canners aged 40 or younger, the demographic of canners is shifting from Baby Boomers to Generations X and Y. Moreover, almost half of canners live in suburban areas, signaling that canning is no longer reserved to rural communities. As the recession progresses and food prices continue to rise, 61% of canners’ greatest motivation is saving money.

Internet Canning Craze

While canning may seem like a family tradition passed down from generation to generation, younger people joining the canning craze are looking first to the Internet as a resource. Fifty-​two percent of survey respondents said they are using the Internet to find information on canning and there has been a 109% increase over last year in page views for canning and preserving articles on Allrecipes alone. Specific searches such as “blanching and shocking vegetables,” “jam,” and “dill pickles” have risen dramatically.

In addition to traditional at-​home DIY activities, analysts are seeing an explosion of artisan jams and pickle purveyors.  The canning trend is thought to be feeding on a perpetual wave in trends that is rooted in a reinterpretation of the idealized life and reclaiming of the past.

Retailers Respond to Demand

Orgill, the Memphis, Tenn.-based distributer, has reported the following increases this year: 20% in gardening tools; 30% in insecticides and fertilizers and 25% in soil. However, retail programs manager Denise Sullivan said that canning is where the company has seen its biggest increases – category sales have more than doubled from last year. “Canning is where we have seen the biggest increase, as many consumers are going back to basics since the economy is so tight,” she said.

Westlake Ace Hardware’s corporate office confirmed that during the past 12 months, the 80-​plus-​store chain has experienced a 78% in sales increase in canning supplies and a 48% sales increase in pressure cookers. DeWolf also reports a noted increase in canning supply sales at True Value and Home & Garden Showplace stores – a trend that started heating up in 2008 but saw a bigger push into the spring and summer seasons this year.  In fact, the co-​op is offering a four-​foot end cap with jars, lids and preservatives for those stores that want to step things up in this area.

Additional facts that support the canning trend:

  • Ball Jars canning company has experienced a +94% lift in sales.  Analysts attribute this shift in gardening and canning to an attempt to control household costs and a desire to save.
  • Recently, the NYTimes and Time reported that “Unit sales for canning and freezing supplies like jars, bags and containers were up 11.5% during the eight weeks ending on Feb. 21, making them the second best-​performing category on Nielsen’s list.”

Source: Survey conducted by allrecipes​.com, August 12, 2009.  Website: www​.allrecipes​.com;  Data compiled by Trendscaping, August 5, 2009.  Website: www​.trendscaping​.inyourhead​.com;  Home Channel News online report, August 11, 2009.  Website: www​.homechannelnews​.com.