Health conscious consumers focus on healthy meals for a fitter future

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The current COVID situation has taught us a lot and one of the main things which a lot of Indians learnt fast, in the 70-day lockdown was adopting the habit of eating healthy food. During the lockdown, as restaurants and other food outlets were closed, a majority of the population gave up the idea of eating/ordering junk food and focused more on healthier meals.
Today consumers are more conscious of their health and have also understood that proper nutrition and hydration is vital for the human body to thrive. Eating healthier foods is also seen as a preventive measure to avoid future health care costs. People who eat a well-balanced diet tend to be healthier with stronger immune systems and are at lower risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases including the contraction of COVID-19. Consumers are also eating healthier meals comprising more local products like fruits and vegetables. They are balancing their calorie intake with calorie usage, as well as opting for reduced refined grains and salt, and eating more vegetables. At the same time, they are paying more attention to products that have information on their packaging about natural/ environmental claims status, such as third-party certifiers for fair trade and non-GMO.
More consumers are altering their diets to include more plant-based foods for reasons of health and environmental concern. More are also becoming flexitarians, who regularly eat meatless meals. There’s growth in veganism too. From customised healthful beverages, locally sourced whole grains, breakfasts enriched with vegetables and legumes, vegan selections, chef inspired fare for children, and meatless options, the health and wellness trend is spreading fast with higher absorption into the mainstream and greater presence on quick-service menus and grocery store shelves.

Foods Promoting Health & Wellness Are in Demand
The top five groups named by the consumers in demand are:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fish and sea food
  • Dairy food
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Herbs/spices etc 

But beyond their interest in individual foods, the research shows that people are increasingly associating them and their components with specific health benefits such as: 

  • Calcium and vitamin D for bone health
  • Whole grains for reduced risk of heart disease
  • Antioxidants for protection against free radical damage
  • Probiotics for digestive and immune health
  • Omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive development, especially in children

New Trends During COVID
As health and wellness evolves into a major lifestyle shift rather than just a trend, retailers and their grocery supplier partners are working together to address consumer needs in relation to this pandemic crisis. The focus for the industry as a whole is to guide shoppers in achieving a proper equilibrium between enjoying the often indulgent foods they love — cookies, candy and salty snacks spring to mind as prime examples — and making substantial changes to improve their overall health, such as eating sensibly and embarking on a regular exercise regimen.
Value-added Products: Enhanced home cooking and usage of brands that have a wide range of value based products. There has been a sharp rise in demand for tea brands (green tea and white tea), natural spices, brands supplying organic vegetables and fruits.
Vegan & Healthy Food Brands: The year 2020 saw huge percent of consumers shifting towards vegan and organic food. With COVID still around, this percent will increase and become a habit for the consumers. The urge and need to become more conscious about the food they eat will see a rise in ‘vegan only’ brands. Many SME’s have come up in the product space across the country promoting plant-based products, foods & more.
Gourmet Street Food: Post COVID, the urge for eating street food will no longer be the same. There will be a continuous thought of hygiene and cleanliness   stuck in the consumers’ mind whenever they think of having the street food. Thus, we will see a rise of many gourmet street food brands in the organised sector that can provide great taste coupled with hygiene and convenience of delivery.
The Demand
Consumers today are looking for:

  • Healthy food options
  • Nutritional insights
  • Special dietary needs
  • Organic/natural/local
  • Free-from foods

The changing dynamics of the food industry is certainly influencing the role that supermarkets play in providing meal options for today’s consumers.  More and more grocers are realizing that their stores are the perfect place to reach customers with messages about health and wellness. The concept of organic, freshness, wellness, health and natural is what the consumers are looking for currently. While most grocers are committed to merchandising more natural and organic offerings in departments such as produce, meats, fish, deli, bakery and meal kits, health, beauty and wellness (HBW) categories offer retailers additional opportunities to expand and underscore their ongoing efforts in those categories. Overall, across all retail sectors, these categories are viewed as high-growth opportunities. But their growth has been challenged within the food retail classes of trade.
Emergence of New Players
Going by the rise in demands, there has been a huge surge in emergence of new players in the health and wellness category. The growth of the Indian organic food industry in the last five years has opened the door for new players in the health and wellness segment as well. Growth in the e-commerce sector has acted like a facilitator for the organic food industry to reach out to the potential consumers in Tier II and Tier III cities. Secondly, with free/low-cost access to the Internet, more and more people are getting to learn about the benefits of health and wellness brands. As a result, the industry landscape is becoming competitive with more and more players entering the industry.
Here are a few factors that are responsible for the growth of the health and wellness sector in the food industry.

  • Growing populations and their vast demand for food
  • Government policies like, ‘Make in India’, ‘Startup India’
  • Increase in consumers purchasing level/Power.
  • Access to all branded food materials even at the village level
  • Changing lifestyle patterns

Healthy Snacks & Beverage Products
As consumers’ interest in better nutrition grows, so does their craving for better-for-you snacks. The addition of new and revamped products in center store — not to mention across the perishable grocery sections — reflects shoppers’ penchant for snacks that lend themselves to a healthy (or at least healthier) lifestyle, and their demand for products that reflect the busy aspects of that same lifestyle. There is a huge demand of healthy snacks that adhere to their specific dietary needs including gluten-free, organic, clean-label, whole grain, reduced-calorie, omega-3, and vitamin- and mineral-fortified products.
Also, consumers today, especially young adults, are thirsting for beverages that go beyond refreshment to offer easy, portable nutrition. While traditional carbonated soft drinks remain the biggest form of liquid refreshment beverage, they’re losing both volume and market share. Once found exclusively on health food and specialty food retailers’ shelves, products such are migrating more quickly than ever before to conventional supermarkets as retailers seek to satisfy consumers’ desire for new beverages with fewer and more natural ingredients, lower-calorie profiles, and added health benefits.

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