Consumer behavior shifts to healthy options
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about major change in consumer preference in food and beverage products.

Healthy products, such as those that promise immunity boosters, are seen to take the  spotlight even after the health crisis is over, this according to Tan Heng Hong, Asia and Pacific (APAC) Food and Drink analyst at Market Intelligence (Mintel).

In the Philippines, food manufacturers can take advantage of its rich resources to develop products such as Virgin Coconut Oil and malunggay (moringa oleifera) as good opportunity for business, as consumers seek natural, trusted healthy foods to improve their health.

The current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis has unlocked new opportunities for manufacturers of immunity boosting food and drink in Southeast Asia to innovate around immunity to ward off future viruses, he emphasized.

The Mintel analyst said that Southeast Asian consumers are changing their habits by stockpiling groceries and increasing online shopping with the rise of Covid-19 cases.

“Even after the current situation calms down, given the scale of the outbreak and depending on the duration of lock-down style measures, it is likely to leave an indelible mark on consumers. Key behaviors such as vigilance around immunity and hygiene will stick, as will dependence on online grocery shopping and possibly even the habit of at-home cooking," he said.

Heng Hong’s report released by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) believed that such changes in consumer behavior during a major public health crisis could have a lasting impact on the way consumers eat and drink in the future.

On the other hand, Vietnamese consumers turn particularly to black garlic to boost their immune system; Indonesians are stocking up on jamu, a traditional medicine made from natural ingredients; while demand for vitamin C and multivitamins has increased in Singapore following the outbreak of Covid-19, he added.

The report said manufacturers of immunity-boosting food and drink in Southeast Asia are actively promoting the importance of immunity to strengthen the body during the pandemic.

These immunity-enhancement products include vitamin fortified food and drinks as well as spoonable yogurt, drinking/cultured yoghurt, and nutritionally complete drinks, it said.

Heng Hong further said eCommerce thrives as consumers turn to the convenience of ordering their groceries online as they choose to stay indoors more often to minimize their exposure to viruses like Covid-19.

“Online grocery players can maximize the current situation to showcase the benefits of shopping for groceries online, including having sufficient stock of popular items during the pandemic, safe handling and delivery of parcels, free delivery, promotions and the use of e-payment to reduce the risk of getting the virus from handling cash," he said.

Moreover, Heng Hong said food manufacturers can step in to provide consumers with a more convenient, tasty, and healthy meal solution as more of them dine at home to avoid crowds.

“Eating healthy food can improve the body's immune system; however, preparing healthy food that tastes good can be a real challenge for many people, including those who are new to cooking," he noted.

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