The Covid 19 pandemic is reshaping grocery industry trends just as it has other parts of the economy, according to recent report from the International Food Information Council.
“Drawing on IFIC’s expertise in nutrition, food safety, and consumer attitudes and behaviors, we believe the pandemic will continue to be the dominant force behind a wide array of food trends in the coming year,” said CEO Joseph Clayton.
The risk to food handling and preparation related to COVID-19 is ranked the top food safety concern by more Americans than any other issue (24%), outpacing foodborne illness from bacteria (20%).
A September 2020 IFIC survey revealed that about half (49%) of Americans were concerned about the safety of food prepared at home. The same survey showed that coronavirus exposure and food contamination remain among the most common food safety worries.
More recently, 39% of respondents in the organization’s 2020 Year-End Survey said the risk of Covid 19 when shopping for food or dining out were among their top food-related concern.
IFIC predicts that this trend will be reflected in technologies and innovations to make greater use of artificial intelligence and machine learning designed to meet customer expectations about food safety.
Also in the year-end survey, when shoppers were asked how cooking habits changed over the past year, 36% reported cooking more simple foods, ranking that ahead of trying new recipes (30%) and new cooking techniques (19%).
More concerning is that nearly three in 10 (28%) of those surveyed said they are worried about being able to afford food for their household in 2021.
IFIC said expect to see simpler, more “semi-homemade” meals incorporating affordable options like canned or frozen foods, and convenient staples like rice and pasta which can be quickly assembled for a well-balanced, budget-conscious meal.