White Paper

COVID-19 Shifts in Consumer Food Trends: Opportunities for Retailers

Cover of white paper for shifting retail environments, featuring a woman shopping for fruits and vegetables in grocery store while wearing surgical mask.

December 9, 2020

Consumer trends emphasize reducing sugar intake, sustainability, plant-based products, and immune support.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed an intense spotlight on the link between unhealthy diets, poor health conditions, and COVID-19, and many consumers have turned to reducing sugar intake, sustainability, plant-based products, and immune support to protect their health and the planet. Throughout this crisis, we have seen that those suffering with diet-related conditions – obesity, Type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and other preexisting conditions – have experienced disproportionate rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

With dining-out options reduced, unemployment rates high in many areas, and heightened concerns about mitigating exposure to the virus for one’s self and one’s family, Americans are eating more meals at home. Supermarkets are the primary source of foods consumed in the home, with more than 38,000 supermarkets in the U.S. generating annual sales of $701 billion.

Read our latest white paper, which explores new research on shifts in consumer trends during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they mean for food retailers.

Key areas emphasized by this research into consumer trends include:

1. Consumers reducing sugar intake

More consumers report awareness of the deleterious effects of sugar on their health, and are making sugar-conscious healthy eating choices, like water over soft drinks or health snacks over candy.

2. Perceptions of sustainably-marketed products

Almost 60% of consumers say it is important that the products they purchase or consume are not only good food for health but also good for the planet and are produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

3. Observational trends in plant-based products

Increased numbers of consumers are seeking to include more fruits and vegetables as well as plant-based products in their diets, bolstering produce sales in 2020.

4. Growth in immune-support foods

Two-thirds of millennials and a third of baby boomers said they were increasing their consumption of functional (or “health-enhancing”) food and beverage products in 2019. In recent months, after the onset of the pandemic, almost half of consumers worldwide consumed more immune-support products.