OPINION: New 2021 Trends in Food and Beverage Industry Brought by COVID-19
EDITOR’S LETTER from June 2021 issue of Food and Beverage Engineering and Maintenance.
It is no secret the food and beverage industry has a unique role in expanding economic opportunity, as it is universal to human life and health. In this diverse landscape, billions of people grow, transform, and so does the industry.
This applies to the Canadian food and beverage processing industry, which, according to the Government of Canada, is the second largest manufacturing industry in terms of value of production, with sales of goods manufactured worth $117.8 billion in 2019; it accounts for 17 per cent of total manufacturing sales and for two per cent of the national GDP.
However, it’s only been over a year since the emergence of COVID-19 disrupted lives and businesses. Yet, the accelerated rate of change has made the pre-pandemic past feel like a lifetime ago, and the food and beverage industry has been one of the many things that has seen change over the course of this year.
As we start to envision a post-pandemic future, we expect to see some new trends brought on by COVID-19, and not only within the food and beverage industry, but also within the consumers’ mindsets.
In a 2020 survey conducted by FMCG Gurus, 80 per cent of consumers worldwide indicated they were planning to eat and drink healthier in 2021 as a direct result of COVID-19. Already, 58 per cent of North American consumers say they regularly research different ways to improve their health.
As consumers look to stay healthier for longer, they are adopting a prevention over cure approach to wellness: 67 per cent of global consumers are interested in products that boost immune health even if not suffering from such problems.
The disruption to routines has led to consumers questioning aspects of daily life that they previously took for granted. As such, consumer behavior will increasingly be driven by risk avoidance, with consumers wanting transparency and validation from brands.
As a result, 38 per cent of global consumers say that they have been more attentive to the country of origin of products in the last 12 months, 49 per cent of global consumers say that they have changed their attitudes towards packaging in the last 12 months, and 68 per cent of global consumers say they are now more conscious about other shoppers handling products in-store.
One of the things that will grow in popularity are plant-based alternatives, as consumers take a more proactive approach to addressing health and sustainability issues. Taste and texture will be major issues that must be addressed over the next couple of years, as consumers increasingly expect plant-based products to mimic the experience of eating animal produce.
There has never been a better time to have a foothold in the sector, and even though projecting trends isn’t a sure science, but what seems to be certain is that the online and retail food and beverage industries has changed for good.