2021 Media Kit

COVID-19’s impact on food and drink markets in South-east Asia

COVID-19 is changing consumers’ eating habits in South-east Asia, new findings from research firm Mintel unveiled. “The global spread of COVID-19 is forcing Southeast Asian consumers to cope by changing their eating habits and embracing new shopping practices. The threat of infection is reinforcing the importance of having a healthy immune system, unlocking new opportunities for brands to innovate around immunity to ward off future diseases,” said Tan Heng Hong, APAC Food and Drink analyst, Mintel.
Given today’s consumer climate, food and drink categories with strong immunity claims can drive home the importance of immunity to protect wary consumers. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), the largest share of food and drink launches in South-east Asia belong to the following: Growing-up milk (one-four-years) (16%) meal replacement drinks (6%), and drinking yoghurt/liquid cultured milk (6%). These products, launched between March 2017 to February 2020, carried an immunity claim.
“Manufacturers of immunity-boosting food and drink products are actively promoting the importance of immunity to strengthen the body during the pandemic. These immunity-enhancing products include vitamin-fortified food and drinks, as well as ‘spoonable’ yoghurt, drinking/cultured yoghurt, and nutritionally-complete drinks," Tan explained.

Online opportunities
Community lockdowns implemented across the region has changed shopping patterns as well, Tan noted. Findings also show that more consumers are turning to the convenience of ordering their groceries online as people choose to stay indoors to minimise their exposure to COVID-19. As a result, online grocery vendors have witnessed a surge in orders.
“The online grocery sector is seeing a surge in activity because many shoppers are staying home, presenting huge opportunities for grocery retailers to better engage with consumers through measures that bring added value and convenience. We're also seeing growing interest in at-home cooking, which presents challenges and opportunities for brands looking to engage with those preparing and enjoying tasty meals at home."
Online grocery players can also maximise on the current situation. They can gain new users by showcasing the benefits of shopping for groceries online, including having sufficient stock of popular items during the pandemic, safe handling and delivery of parcels, free delivery, promotions, and use of e-payments, Tan added.

Tastier ‘make-at-home’ meals
As more consumers dine at home to avoid crowds, food manufacturers can step in to provide them with a more convenient, tasty and healthy meal solution. For example, many consumers in Vietnam find preparing healthy food that tastes good can be a real challenge. According to Mintel research, nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers in Vietnam cook meals from scratch all or most of the time. Still, 52% say it is challenging to prepare healthy food that tastes good. Tan said that behaviours acquired during COVID-19 would likely stay with consumers. "Key behaviours such as vigilance around immunity and hygiene will stick around for the long term, as will dependence on online grocery shopping and, possibly, even the habit of at-home cooking," concluded Tan. (Image from Pixabay)

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