5 ways the covid crisis is changing the food business world

Pantries have once again become the heart of our homes, delivery apps have increased their sales and meal kits have made a comeback. All this emerging (and some re-emerging) trends are all down to the pandemic and consumers shifting their needs and demands. Everything to where we buy food, how we buy it and how we consume it has changed.

With restaurants and food service establishments closing overnight, supermarket shelves being ransacked and food production lines being cut, people realized their food habits had to change. Will the fear of a second wave of covid keep people shopping the same or can we expect the “new normal” to go back to normal as the crisis ceases?

Functional foods 
With a pandemic threatening peoples health, consumers have been seeking food types with more nutritional value. As well as those helping with stress relief, energy boosts and immunity. According to Israeli-based AI startup Tastewise the “immunity” in food searches rose 27% between February 2019 and March 2020 and searches for mushrooms, herbs, and spices on Google spiked by 200% over the last 12 months. Functional foods are those that offer added health and wellness benefits, including foods fortified with vitamins, minerals and probiotics and nutrient-rich ingredients like fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains. Sleep-supporting beverages have also seen a rise in popularity as well as energy inducing shots that help with stress and increased workloads.

Here are a few of our favorite immunity boosting startups to check out: Shaka Tea, Vital Proteins, Shroom Shot, Taika, 8 greens

Sales of alternative meat products are up 264% over a period of nine weeks ending last May, according to Nielsen. Plant-based foods were well on their way up before covid hit, but with thousands of meat packing and factories closing due to health scares, the crisis has definitely amplified their growth. Meat substitute leaders like Beyond Meat and Impossible have been popping up in retail stores and fast food stores across the globe, as they slowly infiltrate the food service industry. Is plant-based the future?

Online shopping
With increasingly more people confined to their homes, many have turned to online shopping to do their weekly shop realizing the mass diversity of products available and the efficiency of home delivery. Instacart app downloads for grocery delivery increased 218% and Walmarts grocery app went up 160% as they both struggled with rising demand during the pandemic.

A handful of startups have decided to go digital, offering new d2c online stores to stay in business – not only traditional grocery stores, but also local farmers markets and speciality stores, too. A number of restaurants have also decided to not only pivot toward a curbside model but also to offer touch-less grocery stores. Popular bread company Panera recently launched its new Panera Grocery platform. So, will consumers be willing to return to physical stores when they re-open? Lets hope so, otherwise retailers could be looking at losing out on impulse buys.

Food safety
As the pandemic comes to an end and employees return to work, people are going to be more worried about food safety than ever. Its hard to know exactly how people will react but it seems like we could be stuck with social distancing rules for a while. Consumers may also turn to their local independent stores and farmers market to buy groceries, even if it costs more, because they feel safer buying fresh local produce.

Before the crisis cities and countries were making progress in banning single use plastics and consumers were gunning for increased sustainable solutions from companies. However, amid the ongoing health scares shoppers are becoming more concerned about health and safety and many will want to revert back to using plastic packaging. 

Meal kits
Meal kits were a dying trend before the crisis, with many going out of business as people preferred to order whole meals than lose time cooking it themselves. However, with people now stuck at home with time to kill, startups like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh have both experienced substantial spikes in demand. 

Cooking from home is now giving people something to do, but how long will it last as people return to work and school? According to Grand View Research the meal kit delivery market will achieve revenue of $19.92 billion by 2027, but is this momentum sustainable? 

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