Innova Market Insights identifies key pandemic trends with long-term appeal
The Almond Board of California says that almonds offer food manufacturers "extensive versatility" when it comes to product innovation during this time.
While it’s too early to understand the full impact of the health pandemic on life as we know it, many of the changes to consumer food and drink behaviours resulting from life under lockdown could be here to stay for some time.
Lu Ann Williams, director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights discusses some of these key changes, the resulting trends and the products already responding: “The combination of not ‘physically’ going to the shops as often, a desire to stay healthy but still indulge from time to time, as well as a heightened awareness of the vulnerability of the planet and food safety has impacted how and what we eat. It has also emphasised the importance of a reliable food supply and healthy, shelf-stable, sustainable ingredients.”
This last point is key, explains Dariela Roffe-Rackind, director, Europe & Global Public Relations at the Almond Board of California, adding: “Ingredients like almonds can help food manufacturers innovate in step with consumers who are thinking more profoundly now about what they are eating and buying – for a multitude of reasons. Current trends we are seeing require the food industry to adapt to new and evolving health, indulgence and responsible consumption demands to name a few. The nutritional profile and extensive versatility of almonds, combined with their shelf-stable nature, means they’re perfectly placed to help manufacturers do this.”
Innova Market Insights identifies three key trends:
Restoring Personal Health: The pandemic has caused consumers to think about the importance of keeping healthy, and the primary concern for most consumers is for their personal health and that of family and friends.
Williams comments: “Despite the rise in alternative therapies and trendy diets over recent years, the definition of good health is now focused on conventional health, heralding a return to the basics of good nutrition when it comes to food and drink. Consumers want to nourish their gut and look after their heart and respiratory systems and are willing to reflect that focus in their food choices. With one-third of consumers claiming to be eating healthier, there’s a real opportunity for manufacturers to formulate accordingly. ⃰”
Back to Basics: As people learn to appreciate life’s simple pleasures, and cost a concern for some, consumers are turning back to basics.
Williams says: “As lifestyles have adapted to new restrictions, two in five European consumers are buying more food, drink and household goods, looking to stock up for 1-2 weeks. As well as looking at the health properties, consumers are considering the shelf-life of goods, with over 43% of Europeans placing more importance here suggesting a shift away from more indulgent categories as well as some fresh foods.
“This has manifested itself in a few different ways; stocking up on favourite staple items that can be stored for longer, a return to processed foods and a new appreciation for frozen, dried and canned goods. Manufacturers have the opportunity to tap into shelf-stable ingredients like nuts and seeds to provide the nutrition and flavour consumers are looking for, with the convenience of product stability.”
Indulgence: Although there is a focus on healthy eating across Europe, consumers continue to look for a release from the day to day and treats and indulgences play an even larger role.
“With limitations placed on restaurants and coffee shops, there is a desire to still enjoy food, have some fun and recreate outside indulgent experiences at home. Over a quarter (28%) of European consumers are experimenting more with new recipes and people are sharing what they’ve created on social media – spreading inspiration and encouragement,” says Williams.
She continues: “Baking is an example here, however, the increased interest has led to shortages of some ingredients on supermarket shelves, like plain flour and sugar. But consumers have been open to trying alternatives like plant-based or gluten-free ingredients – these provide the same pleasure when consumers can’t get what they need or want. These alternatives will likely grow in popularity, particularly if supply chains fluctuate, as ongoing demand for access to reliable and tasty shelf-stable ingredients continues.”