Five consumer attitudes to drive future success for food and beverage brands

Woman stands in grocery aisle

The health food market has been growing and evolving at a rapid rate, coinciding with societal factors including the meat-free movement, food intolerances and sustainability. In fact, the CSIRO estimates that by 2030 it will have an annual growth rate of 3.6 percent and have reached $25 billion in Australia alone.

Far more than a fad, the desire for healthier options is not waning, with 89 percent of Australians seeking a healthier diet and 53 percent willing to pay a premium for health and wellness products. But, as Australia begins to show signs of economic recovery from the pandemic, it will be important for the food and beverage industry to understand the new drivers influencing the habits of Australian consumers.

From a food perspective, COVID-19 restrictions have had a clear and wide-ranging impact on Australian consumers’ eating behaviours and health responses: for some, this meant focusing on losing weight due to “work from home” weight gain, and for others the pandemic has raised their consciousness of broader issues resulting in an increasing interest in vegetarian diets.

Understanding the public’s evolving attitudes, behaviours, consumption and purchasing patterns as they make the shift towards healthier eating will inform how the industry produces, creates, presents and markets healthy food to the masses. For FMCG brands, now is the time to leverage this shift and ride the wave of change towards healthy food choices.

Here are five key consumer drivers that are predicted to aid food and beverage organisations prosper in the new normal.


1. Nature knows best

The price and supply of organic food have traditionally impacted on its ability to grow within the market, however statistics now show that 70 percent of Australians occasionally buy organic produce, and 51 percent are willing to pay more for a product containing “all natural” ingredients. Tightly woven to this trend is the shift towards free-from products. In particular, naturally free-from rather than the traditional processed options.

The organic market is estimated to be growing at 20 percent per annum, and domestic consumption is predicted to reach $2.3 billion by 2030. However, 45 percent of Australian consumers are currently dissatisfied with the range of natural food and beverage options in supermarkets. This is unsurprising given a study of over 40,000 packaged foods available in Australia found that 60 percent of these were classified as “highly processed”.

This dissonance between all-natural and accessible organic options and the public’s ability to easily access them, makes this a strong potential growth area for food and beverage organisations.


2. Food as medicine

Far more than just simply something that gives us energy for the day, consumer sentiment is now shifting towards the notion of “food as medicine”, with 44 percent of Australians already using food as a way to address their medical conditions.

The rise in popularity of superfoods has fed into this, with one in three people believing they offer physical, emotional and mental benefits. Food and beverage companies can leverage this consumer sentiment to produce and market products the public is actively seeking out.

For example, in the mid-2000s quinoa was identified as the superfood of choice. The ‘discovery’ of this highly nutritious crop resulted in a rise in global demand, leading to a rapid increase in its market price, which increased by 600% from 2000 to 2008 alone. This is only one success story, with a boom now occurring for products including medicinal mushrooms, hemp-based products and kefir.



3. Personalised nutrition

The notion of a healthy diet has transcended simply eating more fruit and vegetables, with technology now making it possible for consumers to create nutrition specifically tailored to them. Already 39 percent of consumers worldwide have heard about using genetic profiling to assist in personalising nutrition, though to date, 11 percent claim to have thought about their genetic makeup in the context of their food choices.


4. Complementary medicine

Defined by the Therapeutic Goods Association as vitamin, mineral, herbal, aromatherapy and homoeopathic products, the Australian complementary medicines sector was valued at $5.6 billion, and is only predicted to rise. Though physical wellbeing and health concerns are indeed driving consumer purchasing patterns, it appears there is still a desire to achieve healthier living through quick and convenient means.

This rise in popularity isn’t only in the Australian market either, with China’s market for supplements vast and growing. Between 2014 and 2019, Australia was China’s number one import market for nutrition and health food products, with an import volume of $1.12 billion. Currently, Australia’s year-on-year growth of exports of these product categories into China is nine percent, a number that’s only predicted to grow due to the pandemic boosting demand for such products from trusted Australian manufacturers.


5. Meals in a box

As well as convenient health and nutrition in the form of vitamins and supplements, more and more consumers are opting for healthy meal delivery kits, something that was only spurred on by the pandemic. Brands such as My Muscle Chef, You Foodz and Soulara have experienced phenomenal growth since launching, claiming “low calorie”, “plant-based” and “macro-balanced” meals.

As packaged foods traditionally do not have healthy connotations, clever marketing has played a large role in promoting these food services. 50 percent of consumers say that they prefer a healthy meal option, so conveying this message through clever advertising has been crucial. This behaviour has now moved beyond delivery services, with major retailers increasing their product range of packaged foods with a four-star health rating.


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