This briefing provides updates on Euromonitor’s March 2021 forecast restatement for the Fresh Food industry, deciphering how it is navigating the impact of the pandemic, changes from baseline projections and highlighting future risks and opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced consumer desire for healthy living and boosting health “from the inside out”, as the realisation spread that poor underlying health was a major risk factor for the virus. There is growing consumer awareness that fresh food is a healthier option than processed food, and there have been increases in sales of perceived immunity-boosting products, such as lemons, garlic and ginger.
The shift to online shopping is continuing. Whilst this is more established in developed markets, online shopping is also growing in developing countries. The bigger retailers have more established online platforms, while smaller independent players are focusing on expanding their online distribution. COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of this channel, as consumers socially distance themselves to avoid getting sick and to comply with government regulations.
As countries implemented lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and foodservice outlets were closed, there was a substantial shift to at-home consumption and cooking at home. Consumers who would previously eat out or grab food on-the-go are now eating at home. This positive impact on fresh food sales is likely to continue, even as vaccines allow restrictions to ease, as the economic impact of the pandemic will mean reduced disposable incomes for many, reducing the ability to eat out.
As the origin of the COVID-19 is reported to be wet markets in Asia, many consumers have become more cautious regarding the origins of their food and its safety. Periods of closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 infections disrupted the supply of meat (especially in the US) and prices rose. This provided a boost to alternative proteins in fresh food such as lentils. These benefit from a better health and sustainability profile than meat.
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