Emerging consumer behaviour shifts: Six ways F&B innovation is evolving in the face of COVID-19

With consumers making more attempts to stay healthy, ADM identified six emerging behaviourial changes that will power innovation and growth in the months ahead. The company suggested that food and beverage manufacturers who successfully balance consumer health concerns with affordability are “most likely to win with consumers”, and is confident that these six behaviourial shifts will create opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers to gain market share in an increasingly uncertain business environment.

1. Increasing focus on the gut health and immune function connection
As consumers strive to enhance their immunity, they are becoming more knowledgeable about how the human microbiome supports the immune system and overall well-being. Products containing probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics can benefit the microbiome, and are already gaining momentum in the marketplace.

2. Plant-based becomes mainstream
In the US, 18% of alternative protein buyers purchased their first plant-based protein during COVID-19, and 92% of those first-time buyers report they are likely to continue purchasing meat alternatives, according to ADM’s OutsideVoice research. The report further pointed out that 80% of consumers in Germany, UK and the Netherlands stated they are likely to continue eating plant-based meat alternative beyond COVID-19.

With health, safety and convenience as top purchase motivators, products that deliver nutrition and a high-quality sensory experience will be poised for success.

3. A new perspective on weight management and metabolic health
The pandemic’s consequences for individuals with hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have consumers viewing weight management and metabolic health in a new light, with 51% of consumers indicating they are concerned about being less active or gaining weight during the pandemic. That worry is likely to increase demand for functional solutions supportive of metabolic wellness and healthy weight management.

4. Finding balance: Self care, emotional well-being and nutrition
The difficult circumstances stemming from COVID-19 have increased feelings of anxiety and stress as 35% of consumers report being concerned about mental health. People are looking for new ways to improve their mental wellness during these stressful times, including granting themselves permission to consumer indulgent, comforting food and beverages. However, they are tempering this desire with weight management needs, and seek a careful overall balance of indulgence and good nutrition.

Food and beverages designed to elevate mood, sustain energy and reduce stress will grow in popularity in the months and years to come. ADM also projected new opportunities for comfort foods, snacks and baked goods offering nutrient-rich ingredients and functional health benefits.

5. Nutrition, it’s personal
As COVID-19 increases consumer awareness of individual health risk factors, demand for product offering tailored, highly personalised health and wellness solutions will take off. ADM research showed that 49% of consumers feel every individual is unique, and requires a customised approach to diet and exercise, and 31% of consumers are already purchasing more items tailored for health and nutrition. Products that focus on improving nutrition, self-care and general wellness will increasingly attract consumers’ attention.

6. A shift in shopping values
An increased focus on health is triggering a windfall in consumer health and wellness spending. ADM’s research highlighted that 48% of consumers plan to purchase more items related to health and wellness. Concurrently, manifesting concerns around widespread economic decline have prompted a shift to value-based shopping, including growing demand for basic pantry staples, stimulating trade-downs to private labels and increasing traffic to value retailers.

ADM stressed that these behaviourial shifts are likely to persist well after the pandemic crisis peaks, and has responded by developing solutions aimed at enabling brands an edge in an ever-changing marketplace.