Demand for plant-based goods seen to increase after pandemic
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - July 2, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Food manufacturers are encouraged to produce more plant-based products, as consumers around the world are seen to avoid meat products due to heightened health consciousness.

This will make a significant rise in “flexitarian” consumers as plant-based diets with less animal protein will no longer be a fad, but it will also become a new normal for growing consumers regardless of age—post COVID-19 pandemic, said Ayisha Koyenikan, global food and drink analyst for Mintel in a report.

The London-based market research firm, emphasized that a plant-based diet is a growing trend around the world while health will be a focus for drink launches as more consumers are getting health-conscious especially amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“After all the meat panic buying will come the post-pandemic analysis, and meat consumption could suffer somewhat due to links being made between Covid-19 and animal consumption. It is unlikely, however, that a whole new cohort of vegans will be converted,” said Koyenikan.

She added that manufacturers should continue to focus on “flexitarians” post-pandemic due to important shifts in consumer behavior and sentiment.

Koyenikan further said the lockdown due to Covid-19 has presented some interesting innovation angles for meal kits.

Meanwhile, as Covid-19 has highlighted how vulnerable seniors are to disease, this could be the time to overtly target concerned seniors with products that can support the normal function of the immune system, she added.

Koyenikan also underscored the potential for retailers to take a second look at online subscription models.

Jenny Zegler, associate director for Mintel food and drink, said consumers will make drinks at home to save money and will re-prioritize sustainable and healthy beverages when the worst of the pandemic is over.

“Stay-at-home orders and on-premise closures have transformed households into coffeehouses, workplaces, gyms, and bars,” she said.

Zegler said companies need to stay steadfast to their commitments to the environment and responsible business practices because consumer attention for sustainability will make a comeback.

Consumer priorities towards sustainability were put on pause when shopping during Covid-19 elevated the need for safety and security and saving money.

“As the new normal takes hold in markets, consumers will once again scrutinize beverages for sugar content, nutrition, and other factual health claims. Health conscious habits also will lead to a resurgence in low, no, and reduced alcoholic beverages,” she said.

Zegler further said sugar will be a key concern for consumers and governments because diabetes is considered to be a risk factor for Covid-19.

Furthermore, consumers will expect clear and honest communication about ingredients, nutrition, and health claims, she said.

In fact, the prevalence of misinformation about Covid-19 creates an environment in which consumers will be even more skeptical of health claims, she added.  

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