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Consumer Relation to Food in Post-COVID World

COVID-19 has brought about seismic changes in our lifestyle. People are more mindful than ever about personal hygiene, holistic wellbeing, and general health. Consumers are reconfiguring their priorities and settling with upended routine, work-life balance, and exploring new avenues to nurture their physical health and mental wellbeing in a socially distant environment. 
Consumers expect high adherence to safety regulations, sanitisation protocols, contactless deliveries, and more when it comes to shopping for essentials like food. With increasing fear of adulteration and growing concerns about the quality of food, consumers are demanding more from brands. Not only do they want to have products that are unadulterated in nature and ethically sourced, but they also demand food traceability to know the origin and authenticity of the products they are buying. As the world unlocks with vaccination programs, recessionary revivals, and reshaping consumer demands to adjusts with #NewNormal, some food trends are here to stay.

Preference for Home Cooked Meals 
As work from home and online schooling became a part of life, eating out reduced drastically. Lockdown motivated millennials and gen-next to upskill and gain confidence in the kitchen. From quick-to-blend smoothies and health drinks that met nutritional demands to meal kits and one-pot meals that required minimal culinary skills, from crafting elaborate menus to recreating traditional recipes, meals prepared at home became the way of life. When it came to affordability versus health, eating at home balanced the budget and ensured good health as compared to eating out in a hospitality setting. Home-cooked meals, baking from scratch, easy recipes, kitchen experiments, and more continued to trend on social media. 

Growing Demand for Health Products
As the lockdown continued and good health emerged as the key factor to stay safe, there was a rise in demand for food that met nutritional requirements, built immunity, strengthened the body's natural defence, and promoted holistic wellbeing. Savvy shopping behaviour influenced and fast-tracked the demand for ethically sourced, organically grown, and minimally processed food. Active dieting, healthy snacking, hobby gardening, and more were back in vogue. 

Accelerated Trends for Online Sales
Restrictions on movement accelerated rapid development in e-commerce and online sales platforms. Investment in R & D fast-paced automation to drive channel shift and efficiency. Online shopping moved from desktop to mobile while an upgraded supply chain ensured faster deliveries. Everyone from global giants to local stores and small businesses offered door-step deliveries. Online shopping moved from lifestyle to convenience to necessity pretty fast as one could have everything delivered from groceries to staples and fresh produce to medicines at a swipe of a screen.

Reshaping Priorities for Brick and Mortar Trade 
Brick and mortar trades, hospitality, retail stores, and local businesses embraced the latest technologies like QR codes, digital wallets, quicker checkouts, contactless deliveries, guaranteed product availability, periodic subscription, promotions, loyalty schemes, and more to recapture lost business. Social distancing, hygiene, and sanitisation remained the top priority for consumers and businesses.

Revamped Safety Standards
Players in the food and beverage industry have revamped their safety standards. Precautions are being taken at all levels, from production to packing to transportation and end delivery. Temperature checks for staff, compulsory face masks, safety shields, PPE kits, gloves, sanitising between shifts, thorough cleaning of high-touch areas, clean rooms, sterile environment, and more are redefining processes in the F & B industry.

Product Reformulation to Meet Changing Preferences
With changing lifestyle choices and consumers demanding alternatives, brands are revisiting their product portfolios. They are reformulating their products to meet changing consumer preferences. Options are being introduced with reduced content of sugars, salts, fats, and preservatives. You can now find options for vegan-friendly, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, dairy-free, organically-grown, and other lifestyle-oriented options in brick and mortar stores as well as online shopping sites. 

Purpose Driven Profitability
Enterprises are expected to be responsible socially and environmentally. Companies that are investing in rebuilding an equitable and greener world have a competitive advantage over profit-driven and mass-production business houses. Organisations that value sustainability, indulge in fair trade practices, work towards reducing carbon footprint, encourage eco-friendly processes, involve local communities for employment and people welfare are far more likely to survive, flourish, and gain consumers' trust. 

Balancing Between Convenience and Preferences
Shoppers today continue to back local trade and remain online. While they prefer to shop online, revenues have picked up for local convenience stores and neighbourhood supermarkets. Farmers' markets and local trades have seen a rise in business as people are 'vocal for local' more than ever. Educated consumers choose to spend when it makes a difference. They are looking out for each other by supporting local trades, small businesses, start-ups, community initiatives, and home entrepreneurs. They are willing to pay a premium for brands that share their values. 

Growing Expectations from Brands
Today's educated consumer prefers to be informed and more confident when making choices for their families. Their expectations from brands they purchase are rising. They want to know what's being served on their plate. They want quality products that are sourced ethically and at a fair price. They need transparency about the origins and journey of their purchases. When it comes to internationally sourced products, global batch traceability plays an important role.
Enterprises are trying their level best to offset pandemic-related inconveniences and recapture consumers back into the business fold.

Conclusion
The economic impact of covid will be felt for many years. This pandemic is once in a generation event that has changed consumer behaviour, expectation, and lifestyle. These changes have opened up new opportunities for business in the food supply chain. To take advantage of new opportunities and to accommodate shifting consumer preferences, manufacturers, retailers, and brands related to the food and beverage industries will have to step up their game. This will require them to be agile and open to change. Incorporating new emerging technologies like blockchain for traceability and transparency of supply chain, IOT, machine vision, among others, will be new areas of opportunities. The future will reward companies that will adapt and react to changing consumers’ demands and preferences, innovation in food, and improvement in the supply chain.
'Better for the planet' blockchain technology and food traceability ensures that you receive authentic and ethically sourced products and keeps you up-to-date on the journey at each stage. 

About tracs.io
Tracs is Blockchain as a solution (BAAS) and one of the most simple solution to provide your traceable product story. TRACS records critical events during a product journey on Ethereum and makes it available as a story form for your audience. Since the events are on Blockchain, it cannot be altered. This record is a seal of trust that the producer has in his products and that the producer is confident enough to provide the records to his consumers to see.

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