Promise of Immunity makes Functional Food and Beverages an Essential During COVID-19

October 2020

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has certainly affected the overall food industry in many, many ways. The pandemic continues to alter consumer perception and buying behaviour towards food & beverages. In more ways than one, it has come to define how and why people consume specific type of food. Research indicates that fortified foods registered more than 8% annual growth during 2017. The trend found an added momentum with the outbreak of COVID-19, which has stoked the demand for food items that strengthen immune systems.

As a result, the demand for functional food, which was typically seen amongst the elderly and health-conscious, has found a wider clientele in recent months. The viral outbreak has had some serious implications on the industry, causing a stir in the consumption of only nutritious food or the products offering some additional health benefits.

Functional Food and Beverages Receive Universal Priority in the New Normal

The much talked about “new normal” is also factoring in replacement of processed food with functional food items that have innumerable benefits. According to Fairfield Research, 26% to 30% of consumers started consuming more functional food and beverages than ever before during the pandemic. Between February and March 2020, Google Trends data indicated higher searches for combination of ‘food’ and ‘immune system’. This search shot by 670%. In addition to aging population, youngsters are prioritizing their spending, giving preference to health and nutraceutical products. Analysts predict this to be a long-term change in consumer buying behaviour, open new gateways for functional food & beverages.

The promise of boost immunity has won functional food and beverages a steady clientele for the next five years. Consumer interest has especially peaked in immune boosters with the uncontrollable state of COVID-19.

Following the trend, manufacturers have launched various products targeting different demographic. For example, Hovis Ltd, a British company is offering bakery products, introduced a range of bread loaf under the brand of Hovis Glorious Grains designed to support the gut health and immune system.

Asia Pacific Leaps Forth as Launch of New Products Lures Consumers

Since the start of the pandemic, Asia Pacific has presented tremendous potential for growth. Influx of new product variants has prompted consumers to consume nutrient-specific food items. Sale of immunity bosting products have skyrocketed in the past few months. Between January and February, the sales of functional food rose to 579% in South Korea.

These soaring heights of success are attributable to new product launches, especially in India followed by Australia and Indonesia. Along with the increased demand, new guidelines specifying e-inspection processes to prevent cross contamination of COVID-19 has propelled demand.

Lockdown has compelled people to stay home, giving many a chance to cook elaborate meal. This element has been a limitation to the market growth. Dependency on packaged food and takeaways reduced significantly as lockdowns brought the industry to a grinding halt. Thanks to e-commerce, the restaurant and takeaway segment of the food and beverages industry has found a bridge to recover its losses. All in all, the demand for functional food will remain fairly good and will have favourable growth in the future as health regain priority for consumers irrespective of age.