The year 2020 has driven unprecedented business change across the world, including the food industry. Here are some trends that were visible in 2020 and will be defining and leading the way in 2021 as well.
Thanks to COVID-19, contactless deliveries was a trend that began early in 2020 but will continue well into 2021 unless the vaccine is administered to everyone across the globe. The trend caught on as there was an increased consumer caution around hygiene. It mitigates the risk of virus transmission by limiting contact between people during transactions. Additionally, the robust digital payment ecosystem made the process even more smooth and safe. In some cases, contactless deliveries were also enabled through the use of robots and drones, which might just gain more popularity in the future.
Customers have adopted many habits during the pandemic that are here to stay. They have many reservations about sourcing perishable food produce from unhygienic wet markets. Hygiene and physical contact being the primary concern among the concerned customers. FMCG companies are launching products online before the traditional retail stores, with e-commerce sales recording 56 percent growth in the first quarter of 2020 and 38 percent increase in June 2020, according to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF). India’s e-commerce industry is projected to reach $99 billion by 2024, growing at 27 percent CAGR over 2019-24, with grocery being one of the key drivers of incremental growth, as per IBEF.
Hygiene is also impacting brand loyalty. The change in purchase patterns is also evident. It has been observed that customers are increasingly looking at certified and tested quality products than lower quality products that could potentially cause harm in any way.
The food industry has recognized that transparency builds consumer trust. Consumers now expect food labels to provide better transparency around the product lifecycle. The customer’s quest for chemical-free and preservative-free food alternatives is another key trend. Therefore, the pandemic has accelerated consumer interest in a more holistic approach to health, which includes a greater understanding of hygiene and safety.
The food companies have slowly realized that collaboration is key to ensure doorstep deliveries as consumers want products and services to be brought directly to them, irrespective of their geography.
Speaking on the shift in trend, Shan Kadavil, CEO, FreshToHome said, “Today’s customers are smart. They seek validation for the products they consume. Therefore, a certification of a product’s safety and quality are of utmost importance. There has also been a change in the purchase pattern as the customers of today are looking for a quality product that is transparent in its ingredients, neat in packaging, and allows traceability of source. FreshToHome platform offers the freshest meat and fish thanks to the AI-powered supply chain technology, aided by a cold chain used by its sellers. This is to ensure that our customers get 100 percent chemical-free and preservative-free products."
Online shopping is the new normal and an undisputed way forward when it comes to safe and secure purchases. The food sector, that has been gradually attracting consumers since 2018, has seen a paradigm shift in shopping behavior and is currently enjoying the attention.
Thus, with ever-increasing numbers of online buyers and digital disruption, the food industry in the e-commerce space will continue to grow owing to more sophisticated digital networks.