Not since the 1918 Spanish Flu have we seen something quite of this magnitude.
For most, the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic is something never been seen before and likely won’t be seen again. It’s scary for everyone: for older folks that doctors deem most susceptible, for those with pre-existing lung issues, for young children who know what’s happening but can’t fully comprehend it, for new parents with newborns or toddlers, and for the 18-year-olds who have had to watch the last months of their senior year irreparably changed.
When the Spanish Flu toppled the globe, the world was obviously a very different place. Our economy was not as modern or global. This no doubt changes how we live our lives and will continue to, even as we begin to hear the rumblings of how to “reopen” our country.
So after this almost two-month lockdown, what is going to stay? How will consumers react going forward? What are their fears about facing the world? And how do we foresee eating in and dining out changing? This discussion is far larger and more detailed than I have the space to get in to here, but we’ll focus on a few key topics.
If you want more on the impact of the coronavirus and COVID-19, check out these webinars from one of our suppliers, Datassential. They provide us a subscription service but are doing an AH-MAZING job with their free weekly webinars.
1) Eating Out
It’s changing rapidly. (Since the time you start reading this, I’m sure there are new surveys that would change the numbers you see here!) Between March 10 and April 8, there was a 44% increase in consumers telling Datassential that they are “definitely avoiding eating out”. Today, 64% of consumers say they fall into that category. Everyone wants to support local businesses and are trying their best to do so, but as the number of those infected rise and the economic impact takes a larger financial toll on consumers, that number has scaled back. It’s the number one way people are cutting their spending right now (Datassential).
Taking a look at the photo below from Datassential, you can see the generational breakdown of those “definitely avoiding eating out”.
What’s to Come
I think as we speak more often about opening economies, fear will subside. But that doesn’t mean the money issue will solve itself. 80% of restaurant owners are not certain they can survive this pandemic. That’s a lot of restaurants in jeopardy. This causes a hit not only for our food choice chains, but for the small businesses themselves, their local suppliers, and of course the workers who haven’t been making money, who have been laid off, or who have lost all income but it’s been lessened.
As our team has talked over these last few weeks, we believe things will ebb and flow. Once released from “lockdown” everyone will stream out to get some human connection under their belts, but it will quickly be tempered by fear of income stability. I believe these two things will happen very quickly, but once the economy starts stabilizing, people can return to work, our society will start to return to a more normal society as we once knew.
But that leads us to the next trend: online shopping and delivery.
2) Online Shopping & Delivery
Whew. Where do I start with this one? Should I start with the “now-the-norm” grocery online order & delivery service, the businesses trying to survive by creating online stores, or those creating at-home food & drink boxes for customers?
We have a new way of purchasing our foods. According to a study, 41% of businesses added curbside pickup, 14% added an online ordering system or pre-pay functionality, and 12% of restaurants signed up for a door-delivery service like Grubhub or DoorDash (Datassential). Only 8% of restaurants have made NO changes to their service.
There are some restaurants, like fine-dining restaurant Maple & Ash in Chicago, that are putting together $160 at-home meal kits for four people. You can even find a video link from the restaurant’s chef walking you through the cooking process.
Even some of our local Cincinnati breweries have made up “adult ice cream trucks” except with beers.
What’s to Come:
We really don’t expect this to change too much. Many people started doing these things out of necessity, but they’ll continue to do them because of the ease. It’s awful nice to have things taken care of you in that way. 23% of people tell Datassential that once the lockdowns are released, they would still prefer eating and cooking at home. There’s also big concern over the sanitation of restaurants with most consumers saying they expect a high level of cleanliness from a restaurant and those expectations won’t change after the virus subsides. Will these meal kits and order-up style grocery shopping be the next wave of what’s happening so that people can eat at home more often? I really think so.
3) Functional Foods & Beverages
People care about their immunity. This virus that’s extremely contagious has everyone seeking proactive measures to protect themselves. In fact, Signal Analytics shows the online conversations around vitamins, minerals, and supplements have skyrocketed since January. This chart below the ingredients being discussed IN those online conversations. It’s no secret that Vitamin C takes center stage, as it always does when it comes to illnesses, regardless of the science showing it can’t prevent the disease.
The emerging ingredients of elderberry and echinacea are seeing substantial year-over-year growth and our Naturex team is booming with inquiries about them. Elderberry and many others are claimed to be multi-whammy ingredients, boosting beauty, gut health, relieving stress, boosting energy, and improving brain power. And some ingredients like turmeric, ginger, and mushrooms have a wonderful flavor twist to bring to foods and beverages.
What’s to Come:
Our team has been on the functional train for years. We believe this idea of overall health will continue. At first, there will be a spike in requests for those products as lockdown ends but the fear still remains. But at some point, things will start to level out and the gradual increase of foods and beverages with functional benefits will continue. This virus just gives a boost to a higher level of overall desire for the products.
Our Givaudan Team has been watching a trend for years called Risk Aware, you can read about it here. This pandemic only seems to have only highlighted this trend, even more, more people jumped on board this trend. This time of uncertainty is just that: uncertain. And while what we talk about here may happen, the unpredictability of this virus could still shake our system. Will this kick-off another recession? The majority of consumers think so, but it’s also possible we’ll be resilient through it. No matter what, this team is here to help you as you develop products for a new world…
Stick with us, we’ll stick with you. #staysafe #stayhome #savelives