Consumer interest in health is not a new trend, of course – but attitudes have been changed significantly by the pandemic. As we have seen, COVID-19 has been the #1 consumer concern for the past two years, pushing all other health worries far down the list, cited by just 13% of respondents this year.
Last year’s Index explored how the pandemic increased consumer focus on food safety and hygiene, and there continues to be a strong sense that “being healthy is being safe”, felt by nearly two-thirds of respondents in this year’s research. Worries about food being hygienic and safe have eased a little, but still remain strong, cited by more than half (54% versus 59% in 2020). Concerns about food safety and hygiene are typically stronger in emerging markets, notably China and Nigeria.
But protection from infection on its own is not enough. The pandemic has brought home how fragile we are, and consumers are taking a more holistic, complementary approach to ensuring their wellbeing as a result. This includes a greater focus on mental health; using functional foods to boost the immune system and gut health; and taking a more proactive, personalised, preventative approach to health and nutrition, with a particular focus on natural foods.