The food and beverage consumer of the future: Synergy Flavours predicts how buying behaviour will evolve as a result of the global pandemic and its impact

While restrictions are being eased progressively, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the world has led to major adjustments, as society gets used to a new norm. The way consumers shop for food has changed during this period, with online sales rocketing and queues outside supermarkets becoming a familiar sight. Synergy Flavours’ category managers, Natalie Drake and Chris Whiting, give their predictions on what the food and beverage consumer of the future might be looking for.


1. Shoppers will revert back to basics
The job market has seen a dramatic decline since the COVID-19 virus came to Europe, with an estimated 6.3 million on furlough in the UK during the initial lockdown, and many consumers have been focused to tighten their purse strings. At the supermarkets, it is likely that consumers will seek out own label and value products, multipacks and frozen items, to minimise their spend where possible.

To predict the effect the pandemic may have on the food industry, manufacturers can look to the impact of the 2008-09 economic crisis to see how a disrupted economy affected food and beverage buying habits. The recession saw a rise in the popularity of private label products, as consumers opted for value over brand loyalty. A Nielsen report in 2018 pointed out that private label continued to gain market share long after the recession, reaching 31.4% market share in the European Union (EU) in 2016.

Despite this, consumer opinion polls suggested that many European shoppers still placed importance on brands during the 2008-09 recession. According to a Mintel report, 51% of consumers in Spain felt that private label did not offer the same treat-value as branded. This means that brands can retain loyal consumers, by, for example, highlighting value, as well as quality, to demonstrate that their products are worth the additional spend. Diversifying their offering is one way to do this. For example, Nestlé maintained brand loyalty after the last recession by offering products in different sizes to provide value-alternatives, such as its sale of Maggi seasoning mixes in Spain, which became available in single units as opposed to multipacks.

The market is open for both branded and private label products to perform will following the crisis; the key for both is balancing value with quality.

2. Local and regional products will be more in demand
Many consumers opted to shop at their local butcher, bakery, or farm shop to purchase food products they needed during the crisis. To tap into this mood, convenience food manufacturers should highlight the local or regional provenance of ingredients across products. Unilever predicted a shortage of some produce that is harvested abroad due to working restrictions, resulting in a greater appreciation of where the food comes from, and greater importance placed on traceability from the consumer.

The full article is published on the latest edition of Food & Beverage Asia Oct/Nov 2020. To continue reading the article, click here.