Several months in lockdown has left more than 75% of consumers motivated to stay healthy, according to new research from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The pandemic spurred several shifts in consumer behavior, ADM found, and all of them relate to improving overall health and wellbeing. 

For food and beverage manufacturers, these emerging trends present opportunities to bring more innovative, health-focused products to the market and stay ahead during uncertain times.

Supporting physical and mental health

Almost half (48%) of consumers intend to shop for more health and wellness products, especially those that promote: 

  • Immune system health: 57% of consumers say COVID-19 has made them more concerned about their immunity.
  • Digestive health: Consumers are learning more about digestive health and its connection to immunity. As a result, there may be greater demand for products that include probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics.
  • Metabolic health: A little more than half of the consumers in ADM’s study expressed worries about weight gain and decreased physical activity.

The pandemic situation has also been a source of stress and anxiety for consumers, leaving 35% troubled about their mental wellbeing. This has boosted sales of comfort foods and indulgences, but shoppers are more likely to gravitate toward nutritional, functional snacks that help them achieve their weight management goals. 

Although consumers are spending more on health and wellness, they also have to be mindful of economic challenges. They’re shopping for value, stocking up on staples, and switching between brands and retailers for the best deals.

Pursuing personalized nutrition

ADM’s research also highlights the growing demand for tailored health and wellness solutions. Nearly half of consumers believe in a personalized approach to diet and exercise, and 31% have already purchased products designed for their unique health and nutritional needs.

Popularizing plant-based products

Sales of plant-based products have benefited from rising meat prices and lack of product availability. For 18% of Americans, it was the lockdown that prompted their first plant-based protein purchases. Of those new customers, 92% plan to continue buying alternative proteins.

The pandemic may have fueled these behavior shifts, but ADM predicts they will outlive the current crisis. The most successful products will be those that deliver value and address consumer health concerns while satisfying curiosity and cravings.