The beginning of the COVID19 lockdown was reminiscent of a wartime era. All at once, forced quarantine had the nation rolling up its sleeves and ready to set to work cooking from scratch, and even growing ingredients at home. For many, the act instilled a sense of purpose while being furloughed from jobs.
People were also were getting prepared for the long-term. As a result, we saw a surge in demand for shelf-stable foods such as tinned goods, long-life items and dried food, with supermarkets imposing restrictions on some items.
Almost immediately, the buying of convenience and food-to-go items stopped. With people working from home and placing a focus on saving where possible, shopping habits changed – there was no need to dash to the local supermarket at lunchtime. Over the summer months, restrictions eased, and we naturally fell into a summer of BBQ’s, with a sense of normality resuming.
Perhaps it’s a symptom of the school run and work routine commencing, or maybe it’s the change in the season leaving us feeling lethargic, but it seems that our ‘keep calm and carry on’ mentality has waned. And along with it, our passion for spending more time in our kitchens and making meals from scratch; the following trend shows while we don’t mind spending a bit more time than usual in our kitchen…we want to do it at our convenience, and a little help where possible.
The recipe kit, meal kit, or ‘cook and eat’ industry has seen a considerable increase in demand in both the UK and the US.
Meal kits hit the intersection of several audiences. Those people who would typically order take-out or visit restaurants, those that are time-pushed now routines have resumed and those that have developed a liking for cooking – but don’t want to spend ALL their time indulging their new hobby.
The cook and eat industry is expected to be the fastest-growing segment over the next few years. With lockdown being the catalyst for the rise in demand; Mindful Chef reported a 425% increase in new customers while Gousto and HelloFresh announced that they have more than doubled last year’s sales. It’s not just a trend in the UK, the American arm of HelloFresh reported 90% growth in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 2019.
There has been much talk of the increase of sales for recipes kits being short-lived, because, ‘we all have access to recipes kits, they are called a supermarket.’ While a second lockdown looms and towns across the country face local restrictions, we can’t see the demand for these kits decreasing. But these businesses are also leveraging other avenues and consumer concerns to continue attracting new customers.
Gousto announced its high-profile partnership with Joe Wicks (also an investor in the business) to appeal to the health-conscious. The new recipes will use lean proteins and up to four portions of our five-a-day.
This move coincides perfectly with other trends that have formed during the pandemic. The way that COVID19 has been associated with low immunity means more people are reconsidering the role their diet contributes to their overall health. Recent research has found that 73% of Brits say that the pandemic has encouraged them to add more nutrients to their diet. 51% admitted that they think plants and botanicals will provide the medicinal benefits they need, and 23% have already started consuming more fruit and veg as a result.
The research also found that it is Millennials and Generation Z that is the most likely to have their fridges proactively stocked with healthy options.
COVID19 has also been a catalyst for people considering the amount of meat and dairy they consume. We have previously discussed the rise of the vegan lifestyle and its impact on the food manufacturing industry.
You can read more about how veganism and the food industry in the articles below:
The research from Mintel has found that there has been an increased leaning towards a plant-based lifestyle, with 25% of people aged 21-30 say that the pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing. Although it does appear that this thought process is spreading to other age groups as more than one in ten people (12%) in the UK say that they find a vegan lifestyle more attractive. Interestingly, this trend seems to be more prevalent among those living in the capital, with 22% of Londoners saying they have stopped eating animal products since lockdown.
This lifestyle has the potential to quickly gain even more prevalence, thanks to Netflix airing the new David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. The programme recounts the broadcaster’s life, his vision for the future and plea for us all to take accountability for our impact on the environment and planet. We predict that this will encourage more people to understand that the way food is mass-produced and consumed is not sustainable, and practices need to change – this means potentially reducing the consumption of meat and dairy.
We will watch this trend closely over the coming months and see how further COVID restrictions play out when it comes to consumer behaviour and demand. Have questions about the food manufacturing industry, and more importantly, the way we can help both candidates and employers? Get in touch with a member of the team today.
I started The Sterling Choice with Gareth Whyatt back in August 2013. We’ve always remained true to ourselves and what it is we’re trying to achieve – A great company with great peo...