Coronavirus has changed the way the vast majority of businesses operate, and the food and beverage industries are no exception. So what has been the impact of coronavirus on food producers and consumers and what might it mean for the future?
Consumer behaviour is changing
Veganism is far more appealing
Research conducted by market intelligence agency Mintel indicates that veganism has experienced significant growth. More than 10% of British and German consumers interviewed agreed that coronavirus has made a vegan diet more appealing. This figure rises to 25% of Brits aged 21-30. Overall, Veganism is twice as popular as it was only five years ago.
Cooking from scratch more popular with Gen Z
There’s been a surge in cooking and baking among Generation Z consumers (ie. those aged 16-24) and, again, many intend to carry on beyond the pandemic. In France, half of consumers in this age bracket have been cooking from scratch, while in the UK, 67% say they intend to cook more after the outbreak.
Renewed concern about supply chain and provenance
The pandemic has inspired concern about lengthy supply chains and driven a resurgence in local shopping. Almost half of Germans agree too much food is imported, while over a quarter of French consumers aged 55 or over have become more invested in reading from where ingredients are sourced from. This is further reinforced by governments worldwide actively encouraging consumers to buy nationally produced foods to support local industry.
Significant shifts to e-commerce
The pandemic has forced a wave of new customers to shop online. Some have done so due to reluctance to visit physical stores, for others it is because they can no longer find particular product in usual supermarket. Certainly, on-trade to off-trade is turning into a broader trend.
Future trends, permanent changes?
Interest in immune-boosting foods
Data from Mintel shows us that a quarter of British consumers are eating more fruits and vegetables. A staggering 73% stated that the pandemic has motivated them to eat more immunity-supporting foods.
‘Five a day’ has become a top priority, as a quarter of British consumers confirming that they are eating more fruit and vegetables. Two thirds (66%) believe that consuming vitamin C helps support the immune system. The sad fact is Covid-19 mortality rates have been strongly associated with ill health and low immunity. Understandably, consumers have been looking for ways to bolster their health.
The rise of Vitamin D
There is some evidence that Vitamin D may be particularly helpful in the face of COVID-19. A key component to the function of our immune system, Vitamin D is actually a misnomer, in reality it is a hormone produced by the skin in strong sunlight, something many people will have missed during lockdown. Vitamin D acts as a first line of defence when a pathogen invades. Some scientists are campaigning for governments to increase the RDA to help combat COVID-19.
Alongside veganism and immunity-boosting foods, Mintel research indicates there is a strong belief in the healing power of plants. Indeed, 51% of Brits believe plant/botanical ingredients can have medicinal benefits.
Acceleration of interest in direct-to-consumer
As mentioned above, direct-to-consumer produce has significantly accelerated in recent months, driven by the pandemic. According to Constellation Brands, e-commerce for alcoholic beverages has increased four-fold due to the pandemic.
Large food and small food businesses alike are responding to the shift to ecommerce, surely the single most significant impact of Coronavirus on food producers. Direct-to-consumer isn’t new but the pandemic has definitely increased demand and, for that reason, it seems like to remain a key channel for food and drink businesses.