Preparing For The Next Normal - Food & Drink

Our team of trends analysts at TFP have been busy analysing the current and future impact of COVID-19 and we've put together this special episode to look at the 10 biggest shifts within food and drink that we expect to manifest in the post-COVID world.

1. Hygiene to the Fore

Social distancing isn't going anywhere fast and with anxiety running high over who has touched what, hygiene will come into increased focus. New cleaning standards and practices will become the norm, with companies and brands making these visible to the customers in order to alleviate stress and anxiety and ultimately build trust.

  • Touch-free handles
  • New tools for non-human touching of screens and buttons
  • Tamper evident packaging
  • No touch service automation in food service
  • New generation of drive through stores and food concepts
  • Heightened focus on staff health in both retail and foodservice
  • Perceived cleanliness of plant-based meat, cellular meat and indoor farmed foods

2. Price Sensitivity and Value

It is inevitable that post pandemic consumer spending patterns will change, and that prices will rise, not only due to cost of product but also costs associated with social distancing measures. With a global recession looming, consumers are in no mood however, for the cost of food to increase.

  • Deal seeking as shoppers become increasingly promotion conscious
  • Online food calculators to plan/make the weekly shop last longer
  • Refocusing on in home occasions
  • Creating delicious recipes at a lower cost
  • Continued focus on ambient, tinned and frozen food
  • Creating excitement with little touches of luxury
  • Consumption of seasonal vegetables due to price
  • Crafted and artisanal foods to justify value

3. Corona Generation Restaurants

With social distancing and health anxiety here for some time, restaurants re-opening will need to think smart and leverage the online channel to help them in the Corona Generation - as well as considering use of space.

  • Focus on take out
  • Roadside pick-up of pre-ordered meals
  • A focus on the customers that matter, probably a more local clientele, those who can Drive-thru or click and collect
  • Robotic restaurant cooks and servers
  • Upscale vending
  • Simplified kitchen operations
  • Foodservice diversifying income streams – take-out, frozen, prepped food boxes, retail products available locally
  • Well documented and widely communicated safety and hygiene regimes
  • The open kitchen could well have a new relevance not only for 'theatre' but as a demonstration of hygiene and safe working practice

4. Delivery & Digital

We are living through a digital revolution, everyone (well nearly!) from Granny to toddler has connected virtually or ordered online for delivery and seen how easy and convenient it is, so the competitive landscape in food delivery will continue to be transformed

  • Digitisation of the convenience store
  • Evolutions in driverless, contactless, robotic and drone deliveries
  • Dark kitchen restaurant-style meals delivered locally
  • Rise and power of the aggregator who has the power to deliver
  • Shift in retail site utilisation – store, storage carpark to accommodate the shift collection & delivery

5. Planning & Routine

Planning will be big. Meals aren't just nourishment, they form the structure of the day for the family. Planning helps consumers take back control thus easing anxiety.

  • The renaissance of weekly or bulk grocery shopping
  • Online platforms/apps to help with recipe planning and grocery shopping to manage spend
  • Meal and exercise regimes to lift mood and stay in shape
  • In-store layout planning for swift shopping
  • Contingency stocking - just in case

6. Taking Action for the planet

The world has just experienced a global shock leaving us reeling at its fragility, highlighting the climate crisis and how insecure global food security really is. Now is the time to take action and shore up biodiversity and food systems to avert another global shock.

  • Widen out food diversity, at the moment 75% of the world's food comes from just 12 plants and 5 animal species
  • Focus on food loss/waste as it makes up around 10% of total global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Renewed interest in heirloom varieties of foods, so widening diversity
  • Champion local, seasonal and homegrown produce and products lessening food miles
  • Farming for a New Age where impact and bio diversity sustainability are paramount

7. Working from Home

Here at TFP, we have been working from home for 15 years - wondering why others don't do it! Now having been forced to adapt both employee and employer have seen the benefits, questioning whether there is a need to go back to the office in the same way. Be it is full or part-time, working from home will become part of many of our lives.

  • Ready to bake & ready to eat lunch and breakfast solutions
  • More substantial in-home snacking and grazing
  • Love your freezer
  • In-home healthy snacking
  • Home fitness apps and programmes
  • Kitchen gadgets and equipment for ease at home
  • A changed lunchtime landscape out of home

8. Health & Wellbeing

The crisis has put a spotlight directly on health and going forward consumers are going to be searching out products to not only support their general health but to be fighting fit for the virus.

  • Gut health has been linked to immunity and brain health - pre, pro & post biotics and fibre
  • Focusing on mental wellness through good nutrition, sleep routines, exercise and familiar comforts. Not forgetting the calming companionship of pet ownership
  • Functional and fortified foods that purport to 'support immunity' with beta-glucans, vitamins D, C, E, K and zinc on the wish list
  • Keeping body weight under control

9. Upskilled Nation

Most of the population has had to cook over these past few weeks, learning from experts on social media and showing off their successes too! This upskilled nation may be wanting more, continuing to stretch their culinary repertoire albeit from a cross spectrum of skill bases

  • Hack and pre-made products to help and upskilled home cook
  • Cooking classes and recipe clubs
  • Diversify home-cooked meals from the usual top 10 favourites
  • Keener understanding of food and seasons
  • Regional food and comfort favourite recipes updated
  • More meal, baking and dessert kits
  • World cuisine - virtual travel on a plate
  • A renewed appreciation of food

10. Plant V Meat

Plant based dominated food trends last year, it is likely to maintain its relevance now also adding 'hygiene halo' to its list of appealing attributes to go along with health, welfare and sustainability in a world where there is an added anxiety link between meat and human health. We've already seen this in Asia.