How COVID-19 Has Impacted Consumer Buying Attitudes


Published May 7th, 2020

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Consumer Buying Attitudes

Every year, Natural Products Expo West is a flagship conference for the natural & organic foods industry. Except this year, like every other trade show and event during the current health crisis, plans for Expo West had to be shelved. This, however, didn’t deter the producers of Expo West, New Hope Network, from adapting to the current environment and going virtual. Last month, in lieu of the original March event in Anaheim, they hosted a comprehensive and insightful live webinar called “The State and Future of Natural & Organic.”

In this post we’ll highlight some of the more fascinating findings from this webinar, as well as the latest headlines we’re seeing in our industry. We’ll dive a little deeper into the early signs of how COVID-19 has impacted consumer values and purchasing behaviors, as well as a look at how one company launched a new stevia product amidst a global pandemic.

In taking a broad view of the natural products landscape, the webinar unveiled some research showing encouraging signs that such food & beverage products are still relatively strong. In particular, natural and organic food & beverages in the US is growing at a rate more than 2X that of their conventional counterparts. This reflects the trends we’ve seen with the industry developing all-natural, clean label initiatives (i.e. sugar reduction and substitution with natural sweeteners) to meet evolving consumer demand.

A particularly timely and relevant portion of the webinar focused on the effect that COVID-19 has had on consumer attitudes and opinions that drive their buying decisions. It’s clear that the pandemic has heightened consumer focus on their health & wellness more than ever. An overwhelming 77% of survey respondents said personal health is more important today vs. 2019. In addition 43% said they viewed eating healthy foods as more important now, while 33% said they are now more focused on taking dietary supplements and vitamins. All of this bodes enormously well for manufacturers that are investing in developing food, beverage and health/wellness products with “better for you” ingredients.

Monthly Industry News

Top headlines, research findings, and news stories from around the industry

Obesity is major COVID-19 risk factor

Source: Reuters

COVID-19 poses a danger to all age segments, particularly those who suffer from obesity. All the more reason why sugar reduction efforts can play a critical role in public health.

Cheap yet healthy: Sugar reduction catches up with price

Source: Food Navigator Asia

Nielsen’s “Share of Throat Syndicated Report 2019” indicates that consumers now consider “avoiding beverages high in sugar” as important as price and promotion in selecting their purchases.

Bitter outlook for sugar industry

Source: Bangkok Post

An unprecedented worst-in-four-decades drought has impacted sugar production, straining global supply. Could this further accelerate the transition to alternative sweeteners?

How SmartSweets launched Sweet Chews during the COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Candy Industry

SmartSweets planned to launch a new sugar-free, stevia-sweetened candy chew just as COVID-19 emerged. How did they adjust the launch in response?

HighKey expands its ‘low carb, sugar sucks’ comfort food brand with new cereal lineup

Source: Food Navigator USA

Emerging comfort food brand HighKey is expanding from cookies into the dry cereal category, launching three flavors of new low-carb, sugar-free cereals.