Guest article

War on sugar to intensify as a result of COVID-19

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/adrian825
Pic: GettyImages/adrian825

Related tags: FMCG Gurus, Sugar, snacking, coronavirus, low sugar

FMCG Gurus forecasts there will be an increased focus on sugar reduction as consumers look to improve health after the long lockdown, writes Will Cowling, marketing manager of the market research firm.

The lockdown caused by coronavirus has resulted in many consumers experiencing weight gain, brought about by reduced levels of physical activity and increased snacking for comfort and escapism.

As a result, there will be an increased focus on sugar reduction, as consumers look to improve their health. However, they will still want their moments of small indulgence.

As the peak of COVID-19 passes in many countries across the globe, consumers are becoming more conscious about the long-term implications of the pandemic. This is something that will shape eating and drinking habits in a significant way over the next twelve months.

Snacking more

In May 2020, FMCG Gurus conducted its secondly monthly COVID-19 survey. The research found 32% of consumers said they have become more conscious about their weight as a result of coronavirus, a noticeable increase compared to 21% a month earlier.

Half of the respondents polled said they snacked more in May. Again, this is a noticeable increase compared to the 38% who said this in April. These behavioural traits have resulted in a considerable proportion of consumers gaining weight over the last couple of months.

At the same time, consumers are looking to improve their diets. This is because they have become more conscious about their immunity levels and want to minimise their vulnerability to disease and illness. They have also recognised the link between obesity and complications from coronavirus.

In May, 80% said they are attempting to eat and drink healthier as a result of the pandemic, a noticeable increase compared to the 73% who said this a month earlier. When asked what steps they will take, 57% said they will look to reduce sugar intake. This was an increase on the 45% who said this a month earlier, showing consumers are conscious about the impact that current snacking habits are having on health.

The way forward

The reality is that consumers will continue to be conscious about their health as a result of COVID-19, particularly as 71% said in May they are conscious of a second wave of the virus.

At the same time, consumers also want to continue to snack for comfort and escapism purposes.

In order to balance these two need states, there will be an increased focus on seeking out products that are indulgent but low/free from sugar. This is something that will significantly shape consumption habits in the bakery and snacks market in 2020 and beyond.

This article is based on surveys among 23,000 consumers across 18 countries during April and May 2020. Tune into FMCG Gurus' webinar on 'Re-evaluating strategies in an era of uncertainty'​ on June 18. 

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