Food safety, traceability and sustainability blog



Friday Round-up (5/1/20): How COVID-19 is Shaping Consumer Behavior

Every week FoodLogiQ will be aggregating the latest updates and resources for food businesses navigating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Learn how the industry is adapting to protect and feed consumers while building resilience in the face of global crisis.

In the shock of change brought about by the coronavirus crisis, it can be hard to find a north star for strategic business decision-making. In the food industry, we know the immediate task at hand is to safeguard public health, while ensuring the supply chain continues to yield reliable food sources for consumers. Many businesses have adopted new sanitization programs or leaned on virtual supplier onboarding to work towards this daunting goal in real time, but organizations are also looking to prepare their organizations for a future shaped by this crisis. As the industry continues to reckon with the immediate challenges and risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to keep an eye on the permanent changes forming within public consciousness.

How and when consumers are comfortable purchasing food, and what new habits people are adopting to safely interact with food products, provides an important view into how companies can start adapting to a new normal. In recent weeks, news and reports have detailed a number of ways consumer sentiment is evolving as a result of this crisis, an early indication that the impacts we feel today will fundamentally shape the food industry of tomorrow. 

Pre-COVID-19 consumer reports on food transparency already indicated the public’s standards around food were becoming more sophisticated. This trend appears to be solidifying in the face of the current public health crisis. In a recent study covered in Datassential’s weekly webinar series, 76% of consumers indicated that a restaurant’s cleanliness and food safety procedures will always matter more than it did before the virus. Meticulous communication and risk mitigation around health risks has become status quo and will likely continue to be a core tenant of consumer trust moving forward. In the first episode of the same series, which took place on April 3rd, Datassential reported that 43% of consumers prioritized a restaurant’s perceived cleanliness when selecting where to dine. 

The coronavirus crisis has also forced many consumers to rely on technology, placing further emphasis on convenient, low-touch interactions. Delivery, curb-side pickup and online grocery shopping are becoming central features of food consumerism, as have the apps and websites that mediate these interactions. Citing Acosta’s first shopper survey, Supermarket Perimeter reported that 31% of consumers indicated they will continue to use online grocery services. In the same study, around half of consumers said they would be eating at home more than they used to. Across the food industry, creating convenient and flexible food experiences will be essential. 

Brand loyalty also appears to be fortified during difficult times. Risa Duesing, head of consumer insights, analytics and sensory research for Tyson Foods, Inc., told Food Business News, “The shift to tried and true products that deliver is going to stick.” Duesing told the publication this is typical in economic downturns, saying, “It’s something we’ve seen in past recessionary behavior. Many consumers are not going to have the discretionary funds to try new things all the time.” This may mean an emphasis on loyalty programs and initiatives to garner greater consumer trust.

While it’s still too early to understand the full extent of how social distancing will affect our industry, we do know that businesses will need to continue to keep food safely top-of-mind and reinvent themselves as needed to remain relevant to the consumer’s changing needs.

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Please view FoodLogiQ's COVID-19 Food Industry Resource Center for industry-specific updates, resources and information.

If your business is in need of operational guidance for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, please view a recent webinar on how our clients are responding to this crisis; The webinar, 7 Ways FoodLogiQ Customers are Minimizing Risk During COVID-19, is now available for download.

Posted by Julie Brown on May 1, 2020 5:34:46 PM

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