Every aspect of life worldwide was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Some parts of the food and beverage industry were hard hit by the temporary shutdown of the hospitality sector. But ultimately, people need to eat and drink so the industry arguably fared better than some. Speaking with Food & Beverage Asia, Suzanne van den Eshof, global marketing director food & beverage at FrieslandCampina, provides insights into the company’s new 2020-2021 Trend Report to enable food and beverage companies understand consumers’ needs in turbulent times and prepare for a new normal.
Can you share with us the key takeaways from the 2020-2021 Trend Report, and which are the trends you foresee having a sustained impact in the industry this 2021?
Suzanne van den Eshof: We see the key trends we have identified through our research persisting, albeit in different manifestations. The three major trends are Conscious Indulgence, Experiences Beyond the Imagined, and Shaping a Better World.
Conscious Indulgence was already on the rise pre-COVID-19 with healthier propositions already growing in importance, but with the outbreak we saw this trend naturally rising. The ‘indulgence’ aspect means that consumers are not only willing to forsake flavour, mouthfeel, texture colour, smell – all the attributes of what they consume that make food and drinks appealing. But at the same time, we are witnessing an increasing awareness of what’s in those products and their potential health-related benefits. This is the ‘conscious’ aspect.
Experiences Beyond the Imagined
Another continuing trend is that consumers are looking for foods and drinks that engage all their senses – taste, looks, smell, feel and even sound are all important. At the beginning of the outbreak, we saw a more consecutive attitude to indulgence but at the same time the uncertain times prompted some consumers to indulge to the max.
Shaping a Better World
Sustainability has been high on consumers’ agenda for some time, but awareness has been heightened during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In a world over which people have little control, and where government restrictions of the like most have never seen before, are enforced, we see people keen to make positive changes for the food wherever they can. One area over which consumers can take some control is minimising waste. However, the topic is also proving a boost or local suppliers – buying from close to home is high on the conscientious customer’s mind as they see all local businesses as sustainable.
In Asia-Pacific, we believe new experiences will dominate as consumers seek exciting adventures in food and drink.
The full article is published in the latest edition of Food & Beverage Asia Feb/Mar 2021 issue. To continue reading, click here.