Long-term consequences as consumers adjust eating habits after Covid-19

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Long-term consequences as consumers adjust eating habits after Covid-19

A new report by Nielsen reveals that in the future, Asian consumers will "rethink and re-prioritize" eating at home following the Covid-19 pandemic, which could impact on the foodservice and retail sectors.

Not only have consumer habits shifted entirely throughout the global health crisis, data suggests that the unique conditions will likely create a "more permanent transformation" for big industries.

Markets will see long-term consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for years to come as consumers reassess where and what they're eating in response to the unprecedented changes.

Exploring the behavior of 74 markets across the world, this new research is critical for helping address the unknown of how the pandemic is and will continue to shift markets.

Looking specifically toward the outcome and developments arising among Asian consumers - as they have enduring the Covid-19 conditions for an extended period of time - we are able to see how markets might evolve for fresh produce.

This is of special import to the fruit industry as questions of supply, demand and supply chain efforts has pushed to the forefront of industry discussions in recent weeks.

Responses to Covid-19's big hit on consumer habits in Asian markets like China's mainland show that people are emerging from the health emergency with a more "homebody" mindset.

In general, it seems like eating habits and buying patterns may change signficantly into the future even as the pandemic's influence becomes less central.

Of the 11 markets researched in the region, Japanese consumers were the only to say that they would not alter eating habits as a result of the global pandemic.

A number of Asian markets demonstrate that consumers, going beyond panic buying, have shifted away from an 'on-the-go' lifestyle to a more 'safe in-home consumption trend, according to Nielsen's director of Southeast Asia Vaughan Ryan.

In Chinese mainland, 86% said they would eat more at home as compared to before the outbreak. Nielsen observed a similar trend in Hong Kong where 77% of respondents said they would do the same.

For South Korean, Malaysian and Vietnamese consumers, that figure was 62%.

Behaviors relative to online grocery delivery have also shifted in Asian markets. The food landscape and retail changes is, of course, highly dependent upon cultural practices and consumer relationships to food practices.

The report, though, did note that while trends played out differently from country to country, shoppers are more inclined to order food delivered to their houses than before.

This, detailed researchers, has seriously changed traditional consumption habits in the region.

For instance, home quarantine for Chinese respondents resulted in 89% of consumers saying that they would be more willing to buy daily necessities and fresh products online when the pandemic is over.

Overall, mainland China's consumers are more fresh-focused than ever. With health emerging as a big indicator for future market trends in China, this may be a key opportunity for fresh fruit and vegetable retailers and food delivery services to take note of.

“The COVID-19 epidemic is quickly revolutionizing how consumers from Chinese mainland think about their health, as well as changing their purchase behavior and the channels they are using to shop,” Justin Sargent, president of Nielsen China explained.

A big question that Nielsen's report poses is, as consumer behavior across markets in immediate, short-term has definitely changed, when will it return to normal? Research currently says that the answer may very well be never.

To better understand consumer "sentiment and behavior" during the global health emergency, researchers focused on a complete view of the worldwide marketplace to show how "changing behavior can create new opportunities for marketers".

As grocers, e-commerce platforms and large scale retailers and suppliers report significant jumps in demand for fresh produce, markets are inevitably shifting during the novel Covid-19 outbreak.

Similarly, stockpiling has been common across the board as consumers worldwide buy basics and essentials in bulk.

Nielsen's data highlights that trends in Asian markets may be critical to understanding the future of consumer habits for countries currently experiencing higher rates of Covid-19.

Along with these implications drawn from Asian markets, the report generally outlines the four central categories of "market sentiment, e-commerce ecosystem, categories on demand and travel behavior".

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