24 Jul 2020 — COVID-19 is driving growth in fresh fruits and vegetables, juices and nectars in China, India and Indonesia, according to a March consumer survey conducted by Innova Market Insights. Personal health, as well as the health of family and friends, are the top concerns across all three countries, reveals the market researcher. This has led to changes in consumer behavior, which could have a major industry impact.
Notably, health considerations are playing a larger part in purchasing decisions as many consumers seek to eat more nutritious foods. In a bid to maintain a well-functioning immune system, people are also turning toward a range of products with purported beneficial properties. This includes turmeric in India, chrysanthemum and cordyceps flower in China, and royal jelly, ginger and mint in Indonesia.
Earlier this month, it was also revealed that French and Italian consumers are also prioritizing health, while pursuing a healthy lifestyle was underscored yesterday as one of the key trends in the South Korean market by the Samyang Corporation.
Innova Market Insights further details that familiarity, comfort and improving mood are also seen as increasingly important factors for food and beverage choices in these parts of Asia during the crisis. Health, shelf-life and cost are taking on a greater significance with regard to purchasing decisions, while factors such as flavor and indulgence appear to be declining in importance.
The main changes in attitude and behavior in India and China included more cooking and preparing homemade food, more healthy eating and more consumption of products to boost immune health. In addition to growth in fruit and vegetable products, consumers reported reduced purchasing of less healthy, indulgent and highly processed options, such as ice cream, pizza and cakes and pastries.
Another notable shift in behavior is the growth of online grocery shopping as consumers faced restricted movement and limited access to physical stores. In China specifically, the rise in grocery apps encompasses developments in supermarkets, dedicated grocery apps and food delivery platforms.
Foodservice has also seen a major impact, with many restaurants adapting to offer home delivery. However, many consumers are also willing to order online but go out and physically pick up their takeout meals. In China, 37 percent of consumers claimed to be ordering more restaurant or café food online, while 34 percent were picking up takeout food and meals more often.
Examining the drivers behind the shifts
The changes in purchasing behavior are being driven by newfound concerns among consumers, as well as changes in lifestyle. Consumers in China, India and Indonesia have a high level of concern about COVID-19’s impact on both their own lives and on a global scale. In general, personal concerns center on health, personal income and the availability of healthcare and products to buy.
Although all countries are most concerned about the health of oneself and loved ones, Indian consumers are the most concerned in general. Notably, 78 percent of Indian consumers say that they are concerned about their own, family’s or friends’ health compared to 58 percent in China and 52 percent in Indonesia.
Impact on personal income and finances is in second place, while economic uncertainty in general is a top concern about a global issue. Financial or economic uncertainty came first in China and Indonesia, with 55 percent and 68 percent of respondents, respectively, saying that they were very concerned. However, Indians rank healthcare highest, with 79 percent of respondents being very concerned. Additionally, consumers in all three countries were also concerned about the impact on food and job security.
Other possible drivers to changing purchasing decisions include new lifestyles. More consumers are working from home. Innova Market Insights notes that people are also spending more time on social media and online entertainment, as well as exercising within the home. With people leaving their homes less, they are no longer visiting bars and restaurants, traveling for business and pleasure, or using public transport.
Yesterday, Samyang Corporation revealed that pursuing a healthy lifestyle is a key trend among South Koreans. Meanwhile, Innova Market Insights pegged “Product Design for an Online Market” as its 2020 Top Trend for the country as manufacturers are pushed to design new products for online sales and delivery.
Meanwhile, consumers on other continents are also experiencing a shift in behavior, with EHL Ingredients noting that international flavors are becoming popular as consumers travel with their taste buds. Similarly, Kerry has seen a rise in “geo-based taste desires.”
Edited by Katherine Durrell
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