Popcorn Is Piling Up Thanks to Movie Theater Closures

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended 2020, and though most of the news has been bad, certain industries have seen some silver-linings. For popcorn, producers are reportedly seeing both sides of the coin. And though being stuck at home may be conducive to a sales’ surge for microwave popcorn, the closure of movie theaters and other venues have apparently hit the growers that focus on providing the snacks for your nights out especially hard.

While microwave popcorn brands have benefited from double-digit sales increases during the pandemic, the Washington Post reports that, in non-coronavirus times, 30 percent of America’s popcorn consumption takes place outside of the home, and those kernels are typically supplied by growers that have eschewed the headaches of things like microwave packaging to sell directly to theaters and their distributors. Since the shutdown, one large brand, Preferred Popcorn, said they have had to install seven new silos to hold all the unsold kernels—about enough for 80 million movie theater tubs.

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Unfortunately, popcorn only lasts about a year before it’s too dry to do its whole popping thing (which is driven by internal moisture), so Preferred has been looking for ways to move product. One outlet has been teaming up with produce subscription service Misfits Market. “We work with Preferred to repack the giant bags into 28-ounce household bags, branded with Preferred Popcorn as a way to get recognized by consumers,” Misfits founder Abhi Ramesh told the Post. It’s something companies like Preferred have had to adjust to. “Movie theater popcorn has been so stable for the past 50 years—growers could easily anticipate how much would be needed based on release dates.”

Additionally, hunting down movie theater popcorn at retail apparently has pros beyond simply supporting struggling farmers. Andrea Plucker, Preferred’s director of marketing, told the paper that the variety of popcorn that typically goes to theaters known as “butterfly” popcorn because of its large fluffy flakes—usually isn’t sold in stores. Sure, your home theater may have surround sound speakers, but has your popcorn been up to cinema standards?

This story originally appeared on Food & Wine.

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