This report is a global overview of the fresh food industry, examining and comparing the performance of fresh food categories across regions and markets. It explores 5-year forecasts for each category and identifies five key trends driving major developments, including in-depth analysis of the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the fresh food industry worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated to consumers that eating healthily really is a matter of supreme importance; those with poor health who contracted the virus were more likely to suffer negative outcomes. While vaccinations offer hope, a psychological legacy of the pandemic will be that many consumers continue to look to food to ensure health for the next “it will never happen” health crisis.
Restrictions on consumer movements (eg lockdowns, social distancing restrictions) meant eating occasions shifted into the home and cooking increased, with a positive impact on fresh food sales. While such restrictions may end if vaccinations succeed, the economic impact of the pandemic will likely have a longer-lasting impact here – less disposable income means less eating out.
COVID-19 accelerated (already growing) e-commerce grocery sales, as consumers’ ability to visit stores became limited and, in some cases, curtailed. Alongside greater use of modern grocery retailers’ facilities and third party delivery services, direct-to-consumer and subscription models also grew, especially as suppliers pivoted once their sales to foodservice were reduced as restrictions hit home.
Plant-based alternatives received a boost as the pandemic highlighted human reliance on animal protein (as the virus’s origins became known). Closures of meat processing plants through COVID-19 infections reinforced this.
Motivations behind looking for local grew during the pandemic, with considerations around food security also coming into play. Consumers saw vulnerabilities in supply chains and seeking local became a way of ensuring that food would be there, while also meeting any demand for comfort, nostalgia and supporting the local economy.
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