GLOBAL – The coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly changed food consumption habits in the U.S. for the better part of the past year.
There was more at-home consumption than had been seen in decades prior to the pandemic while many consumers increased their intake of healthy and functional foods in an attempt to boost their immunities.
There was also a significant shift towards legacy brands that evoked a sense of nostalgia and familiarity during very uncertain and unfamiliar times.
How many of those trends have become permanently ingrained in the daily consumption patterns of consumers
Now, as conditions gradually improve, the question remains: How many of those trends have become permanently ingrained in the daily consumption patterns of consumers and which ones will dissipate as people go back to their pre-COVID-19 routines?
Recent research studies by Swiss food conglomerate Nestle and Market Research firm Numerator however provide a glimpse to consumer behaviour post Covid-19.
According to Numerator’s COVID-19 Buyer Habit Index, wine stood at the top of the alcohol category with new buyers in 2020 66% more likely than those in 2019 to continue their purchasing habit throughout the rest of the year.
The Index further reported that baking goods also showed stickiness thanks to the home-baked bread obsession that spiked during the pandemic.
Nestlé in its research notes that even when it’s safe to return to normal, 69% of respondents are planning to bake at the same rate they are now, and 65% are expected to continue cooking from scratch.
In the meat category, Seafood saw higher chances of repurchases than beef and poultry and despite the sales boom of meat alternatives, the index reveals that consumers of those products were less likely to make repeat purchases of these products in 2020 compared to 2019.
Even though puffed snacks and vegetable snacks were the least sticky subcategories in snacks, the survey noted that consumers’ purchasing habits would remain about the same compared to previous years.
Coffee consumption is also another major trend that is expected to stick on, even after the pandemic is handled and life returns to normalcy.
Nearly half of respondents (48%) to a survey commissioned by Nestlé said they will likely have their first cup of coffee at home before their commute, even when it’s safe to return to “normal” activities. The figure was even higher for millennials at 62%.
“The pandemic brought quick and unexpected change to both food and beverage companies and consumers, which has forever altered how and what people eat,” Steve Presley, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA, said in a statement.
“While we anticipate more people will return to eating out as restrictions ease, the new insights in this research confirm our belief that many of the at-home habits consumers adopted are here to stay.”
The findings from Nestlé and Numerator add further support to the assertion that many trends that gained momentum during the pandemic will stick around in some form.
Other trends that could benefit include the purchase of alcohol through e-commerce, eating healthier, snacking, consuming plant-based foods and baking.
If the trends actually do stick, Nestlé portfolio of brands in frozen and coffee would be major beneficiaries.
In coffee for instance, Nestlé’s Nespresso platform, Nescafe instant coffee, and Coffee-mate creamer would reap immensely from the popularity of coffee among consumers.
Industry wide, companies with a meaningful presence in many of these categories could continue to benefit compared to pre-pandemic levels even as people get back to a more normal way of life.
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