The Van Trump Report

Emerging Consumer Behavior Trends Shaping the Food Industry’s Future

Consumer trends were thrown a curveball this spring when the pandemic upended the whole world. One food trend that was expected to gain a greater hold in 2020 was the overall shift toward more healthy eating and Covid-19 appears to have only reinforced consumers’ interest. Recent ADM OutsideVoice research showed that 77% of consumers intend to make more attempts to stay healthy in the future. ADM recently identified six consumer behavioral shifts brought about by the pandemic that it believes will power innovation and growth in the food and beverage space in the months ahead, and they all in some way related to health and/or wellness. What’s more, ADM expects these behavioral shifts to persist well after the pandemic crisis peaks.  

Ana Ferrell, vice president of marketing for ADM, says that the significant shift in consumers’ attitudes, priorities, and behaviors “could provide a unique opportunity for forward-looking food and beverage companies to bring a suite of trailblazing new products to market.” As she explains, consumers are not only more and more educated, they are much more open to experimenting with new and different things. Ferrell also says companies are moving fast with new innovations which are expected to start hitting the market as soon as next year. More than a third of consumers said they were concerned about their mental health. The full report is available HERE. Below are the six trends ADM expects to lead the way:

1. Increasing focus on gut health and immune function connection: Globally, 57% of consumers report being more concerned about their immunity as a result of COVID-19. As consumers strive to enhance their immunity, they are becoming more knowledgeable about how the human microbiome supports the immune system and overall wellbeing. Products containing probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics can benefit the microbiome and are already gaining momentum in the marketplace.

2. Plant-based becoming mainstream: In the U.S., 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. In Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands, 80% of consumers state they are likely to continue eating plant-based meat alternatives beyond COVID-19. With health, safety and convenience as top purchase motivators, products that deliver exceptional nutrition and a high-quality sensory experience will be poised for success. Eating more plant-based proteins seems to be a normal lifestyle for many now, Ferrell said, and the reason many consumers give for wanting to eat more plant-based food is the health halo those products bring with them.

3. A new perspective on weight management, 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 wellbeing and nutrition: Ferrell said consumers’ new emphasis on eating for mental health has surprised her most. More than a third of consumers said the difficult circumstances stemming from COVID-19 have increased feelings of anxiety and stress. People are looking for new ways to improve their mental wellness during these stressful times, including granting themselves permission to consume 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 projects 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 products offering tailored, highly personalized health and wellness solutions will take off. ADM research shows that 49% of consumers feel every individual is unique and requires a customized 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’ attention2.

6. A shift in shopping values: An increased focus on health is triggering a windfall in consumer health and wellness spending. Forty-eight percent 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.

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