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Consumer attitudes, priorities and behaviors are shifting significantly and the evolution is providing opportunities for food and beverage companies to develop new products. Seventy-seven percent of consumers intend to make more attempts to stay healthy in the future, according to new research by Archer Daniels Midland, a multinational food-processing and commodities-trading corporation. Research identified six behavioral shifts that will create opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers.

1. Gut-health and immune-function connection gain attention

Globally 57 percent of consumers report being more concerned about their immunity as a result of COVID-19. As consumers strive to enhance their immunity they’re becoming more knowledgeable about how the human microbiome supports the immune system and overall wellbeing. Products containing probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics that can benefit the microbiome are gaining momentum in the marketplace.

2. Plant-based becomes mainstream

Eighteen percent of alternative-protein buyers in the United States purchased their first plant-based protein during COVID-19. Ninety-two percent of those first-time buyers report they’re likely to continue purchasing meat alternatives. Eighty percent of consumers in Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said they’re likely to continue eating plant-based meat alternatives beyond COVID-19.

3. Consumers target weight management and metabolic health

The pandemic’s consequences for individuals with hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have consumers focusing on weight management and metabolic health. Fifty-one percent of consumers indicate they’re concerned about being less active or gaining weight during the pandemic. That worry is likely to increase demand for functional solutions supportive of metabolic wellness and healthy weight management.

4. Consumers seek self care, emotional wellbeing and nutrition balance

Circumstances stemming from COVID-19 have increased feelings of anxiety and stress. Thirty-five percent of consumers report being concerned about mental health. People are looking for new ways to improve mental wellness during stressful times. That includes granting themselves permission to consume indulgent or comforting food and beverages. But they’re tempering that desire with weight management and seek an overall balance of indulgence and good nutrition.

Food and beverages designed to elevate mood, sustain energy and reduce stress will grow in popularity. There are new opportunities for comfort foods, snacks and baked goods offering nutrient-rich ingredients and functional health benefits.

5. Nutrition is personal

As COVID-19 increases consumer awareness of individual health-risk factors, demand for products offering personalized health and wellness solutions will grow. Forty-nine percent of consumers said they think every individual is unique. That requires a customized approach to diet and exercise. Thirty-one percent of consumers are already purchasing more items tailored for health and nutrition. Products focused on improving nutrition, self-care and general wellness will increasingly attract consumers’ attention.

6. Shopping values shift

An increased focus on health is triggering a windfall in consumer health and wellness spending. Forty-eight percent of consumers plan to purchase more items related to health and wellness. Concerns about widespread economic decline also have prompted a shift to value-based shopping. That involves increased demand for pantry staples, stimulating trade-downs to private labels and increasing traffic to value retailers.

The behavioral shifts are likely to persist well after the pandemic crisis peaks. Visit adm.com for more information.