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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One of America's food giants just dropped a hint about how the pandemic changed (and didn't change) eating habits.

Why it matters: General Mills — owner of iconic brands like Cheerios, Yoplait and Betty Crocker — won big at the height of COVID-19.

  • How this class of pandemic-era winners fares now gives a glimpse into which habits are sticking and which aren't.

Demand for at-home food is slumping as "offices and schools reopen and the broader economic recovery continues," General Mills said Wednesday.

  • The extreme hoarding and pantry stocking that gave the company a boost is long gone.

The big picture: Companies like General Mills face almost impossible comparisons. Their sales look puny compared to the monster revenue they raked in during the depths of the crisis.

  • "This is the first quarter where we can honestly say it looked more like the pre-pandemic America than the pandemic America," says Tom Essaye, a former trader who writes the Sevens Report.
  • One gauge of General Mills revenue was down 6% from the same time last year — but 4% above pre-pandemic levels.

What's helping: Some pandemic behavior is showing signs of staying power, General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening told analysts today.

Work from home: "Consumers will eat at home more than they did prior to the pandemic and ... use our products more than prior to the pandemic as well," Harmening said.

E-commerce is now 11% of sales — up from 5% before the pandemic. "Anytime you add convenience to someone's lives, it tends to stick."

The other side: Cereal could see a comeback after more time-consuming breakfasts like pancakes saw faster growth during the pandemic.

Worth noting: General Mills is bracing for "the highest level of input cost inflation that we've seen in 10 years," Harmening says.

Go deeper

Return-to-work plans on ice after COVID spike

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even more "back-to-office" callbacks are being postponed amid a surge in COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: It feels like March 13, 2020, all over again. When businesses sent all their workers home, it was an early big hint the pandemic was going to upend our lives.

The Fed isn't the only problem investors are worried about

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Federal Reserve will be raising rates, just as the economy is slowing. The markets hate that.

Why it matters: The ugly start to the stock trading year doesn't just reflect Fed-induced agita — investors are also worried about a growth slowdown.

2 hours ago - Health

White House says Obamacare sign-ups hit record

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaking in the White House in December 2021. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House said Thursday that a record 14.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare marketplaces since Nov. 1, including more than 10 million enrollments through HealthCare.gov.

Why it matters: Last year's stimulus bill contained substantial investments in the program, including increased subsidies for people who don't receive health insurance from an employer or through Medicare or Medicaid.