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Coronavirus, Eating and the 'New Normal': Lessons from Asia

August 2020

The lines between away-from-home and at-home consumption continue to blur, as eating occasions shift to the home, yet meal options widen from both retail and foodservice. On-the-go lifestyles switch to sedentary, but small pack sizes and impulse products fight to remain relevant. Consumers continue to prioritise convenience, alongside physical, mental and emotional health, and these values are set to drive innovation and the competitive landscape in Asia beyond the pandemic.

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Key Findings

The pandemic has blurred the lines between away-from-home and at-home consumption, as well as on-the-go and sedentary lifestyles

The shift to home cooking has raised challenges in preparing food for the entire household and cleaning up after meals at home. Demand for more convenient meal solutions, snacking options to suit new sedentary lifestyles, and the emergence of new health priorities has called for innovations and restrategised marketing campaigns in Asia Pacific.

Meal and grocery delivery have enjoyed stronger demand, but additional fees and the availability of foodservice takeaway dampens growth

Meal delivery has been a convenient alternative for consumers, while many have also turned to online channels for groceries and fresh food. The rapid changes to the digital ecosystem for food will trigger more growth in the future, and the emergence of new business models.

Meals at home have triggered the rise of home and restaurant meal replacement products, in addition to complementary cooking appliances

Beyond packaged food players, foodservice operators have also targeted eat-at-home occasions by launching packaged versions of their signature dishes to be sold in retail. Cooking appliances have also discovered opportunities in complementing food preparation at home.

On-the-go food faced challenges during the pandemic, causing new product positioning and marketing strategies to emerge

The stay-at-home lifestyle and mask-wearing have caused impulse and out-of-home occasions to deflate, with major effects on snack foods. Opportunities in contactless delivery and self-care positionings have emerged.

Functional and nutritious foods are sought out in the pursuit of a more holistic healthy lifestyle

Strengthening immunity has become a greater priority to consumers, leading high-protein food and products such as probiotic yoghurt to thrive. Focusing on functional ingredients and health claims is likely to aim to address consumers’ desire to combat illness, as well as promote mood enhancement, which is still relatively nascent in Asia Pacific.



Key findings

The ‘New Normal’ in Asia

Flexibility is necessary to adapt to changing needs amidst disruption
COVID-19 is set to change the way consumers eat post-lockdown

Meals at Home

Guided meal preparation methods in strong demand amidst COVID-19
Consumers are provided with more options for meals at home
The rise of meal and grocery delivery is led by East Asian markets
COVID-19 has had a roller-coaster effect on delivery (1)
COVID-19 has had a roller-coaster effect on delivery (2)
Home cooking and takeaway preferred amidst high delivery prices
The evolution of the digital ecosystem for meals is accelerating in Asia
Digitalisation set to shape the future of retail and foodservice delivery
Restaurant meal replacement widens meal choices in e-commerce
Well-known foodservice players benefit from brand recognition in retail
Appliances need to support emerging cooking methods and occasions

Snacking Occasions

On-the-go occasions adapt to less social, stay-at-home lifestyles
Pivoted strategies and marketing to prepare for the post-lockdown era
One-handed snacking: Will this new occasion stay?

Food as Medicine

Food as medicine essential with the absence of a COVID-19 cure
Consumers turn to packaged dairy as a key source of nutrition
Cheese shows potential in China beyond only a children’s snack
Immune-boosting claims are more apparent in yoghurt
Products for mental and emotional wellbeing still in early stages


Home cooking will remain prevalent despite the reopening of dine-in
Health and convenience likely to be key drivers in the region
Value-added products can continue their momentum in Asia Pacific
Eating habits in the ‘new normal’: food for thought


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