Food Professionals Predict Lasting Coronavirus Impact
Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry survey series connects with industry professionals around the world in order to explore trends and innovations. For food and nutrition, an industry survey of 258 professionals working in food in over 70 countries was conducted. Perhaps unsurprisingly they confidently predicted that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will continue to have a significant impact on retail sales.
Health and wellness to remain a key trend
As the pandemic has impacted our lives, so it has impacted our food choices. Health has taken centre stage and the shift from treatment to prevention is increasingly evident; consumers are taking greater ownership of their health and conceptualising it in a preventative sense. This movement has seen increased demand for targeted functionality as a key component of wellbeing, with the pandemic having reinforced the importance of good base health.
Industry professionals predict that the increased emphasis on health from food is here to stay, and that it will have an increased influence over the next five years. This reflects the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic: that it appears it will have long-tail influence, with different markets experiencing vastly different rates of emergence from the most severe situations.
Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Food and Nurtition Survey, fields March 2021, n = 258 industry professionals
Also retaining and increasing in importance are the digital shifts suggested by the survey; as technological solutions come on stream and are embraced by consumers it becomes increasingly unlikely (in professionals’ eyes) that consumers will revert to less convenient, less transparent methods of sourcing/purchasing food.
Pre-pandemic foodservice still some way off
Unsurprisingly the “shifting eating occasions” concept is forecast to lose steam over the next five years, as foodservice around the world opens up and restrictions diminish. However, the fact that over half of those surveyed rate this trend as very/extremely influential for that period reflects the likelihood of continuing increased working at home and foodservice restrictions for some time to come.
When questioned in terms of spending, it becomes clear that in general, industry professionals are pessimistic regarding an imminent return to pre-pandemic levels of out-of-home food spend.
Industry Professionals’ Forecast of When Food Spending at Away-from-home Channels Will Return to Pre-pandemic Levels, by Region
Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Food and Nutrition Survey, fielded March 2021, n = 258 industry professionals
There is no single consensus year, as is clear from the global data for 2022 and 2023. But the vast majority do believe that ‘back to normal’ will have occurred before 2024. The most pessimistic forecast comes for Europe – both East and West.
The majority of industry professionals predict growth for food sales through to 2025, albeit with a cautious approach – the most likely selection across all packaged food was for a 0-10% increase, the lowest (positive) measure available on the survey.
This is not, however, true for fresh food, with 50% forecasting an 11-20% increase. Pre-pandemic health trends were supporting growth, and one of the key impacts of the pandemic has been a renewed focus on healthy eating for many consumers (having had the dangers of being unhealthy vividly demonstrated). Fresh food is, in the eyes of most industry professionals, set to benefit, although 10% are sceptical, forecasting negative growth (up to -10% for the period).