Food & Beverage

CEO of spice maker McCormick says demand still strong in China as home cooking remains popular

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Key Points
  • McCormick & Company CEO Lawrence Kurzius told CNBC on Wednesday that the spice maker has continued to see increased consumer demand in China.
  • "So this new pattern of behavior, cooking at home, is likely to be with us for quite some time," he said on "Closing Bell."
  • His comments may offer insight into how U.S. consumers will behave as states across the country move to reopen parts of their economy.
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CEO of McCormick on surge in spice demand

McCormick & Company CEO Lawrence Kurzius told CNBC on Wednesday that the spice maker has continued to see increased consumer demand in China, even as coronavirus-related restrictions were eased in the country. 

"We're still seeing ... strong double-digit year-on-year increases for retail food products for China consumers," Kurzius said on "Closing Bell." "So this new pattern of behavior, cooking at home, is likely to be with us for quite some time." 

China, where the Covid-19 outbreak originated late last year, is about "maybe two or three months ahead" of the U.S. in experiencing the public health crisis, Kurzius said.His comments may offer insight into U.S. consumer spending as states move to reopen parts of their economy, particularly as restaurants are allowed to welcome back dine-in customers. 

McCormick, the maker of Old Bay Seasoning, French's mustard and Frank's Red Hot, saw its stock close .1% lower Wednesday at $168.52. The stock is up about 50% from its March 23 low of $112.23. The S&P 500 also hit its most recent low that day, and the index has since risen nearly 29%. 

"A lot of people are really learning how to cook right now," said Kurzius, who also is the company's chairman and president. He said McCormick taco mix has seen spiked demand, with sales up triple digits, and products for baking also have been popular. 

The company also has observed significant upticks in online search traffic for recipe tips. "No question is too simple. We've gotten questions like, 'What is a teaspoon?'" he said. "We know that people are learning how to cook for the first time, and like anything, practice makes perfect. I think people are going to have some good experiences with it, and it's a pattern of behavior that's going to keep up."