As we adapt to a “new normal”, consumers are paying closer attention to their diet and what goes into their body. A recent report by Miriam Aniel, Head of Content and Research at Tastewise, showed an increase of 23% in consumer interest for immune-boosting foods and beverages, followed by vitamin and prebiotic-rich foods and drinks (up 7%), and gut health (up 2.5%). Many international brands have already begun the transition to capture the rising health-conscious market.

Organic foods are believed to be healthier and safer than conventional foods, as they contain less harmful chemicals such as synthetic pesticides, and more nutrients. The pandemic has accelerated the shift in consumer preference for more natural and organic food.  Coupled with the increase in online shopping, gourmet grocery chains in Singapore are reporting a spike in sales. For gourmet grocer, Little Farms, digital orders over the lockdown period rose 30 times higher compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Piggy-backing on the healthy eating trend, fast-food chains are offering healthier choices on the menu. KFC Indonesia recently launched Naughty by Nature, a new upscale salad bar. Here, diners get to choose up to 3 sides of cold salads and baked dishes, such as Kale Caesar Salad and Zucchini Gratin, to pair with KFC’s trademark proteins, which include a new healthier alternative, Grilled Chicken. In Singapore, the brand is offering Zero Chicken Burger – a mycoprotein meat-free patty. Similarly, observing a surge in demand for animal-based meat alternatives, McDonald’s outlets in Canada have unveiled the McPlant line which carries a plant-based meat patty, while Burger King has released its plant-based Whopper.

Meal Market Platter available at KFC’s Naughty By Nature outlet (Photo: Coconuts Jakarta)

McDonald’s plant-based take on the traditional BLT (Photo: The Dairy Site)

Many customers, however, still share the sentiment that animal-based meat is the best source of protein and essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, vitamin B-12 and other micronutrients that are not as readily available in plant-based sources. Poultry is viewed as necessary for gut healing and immunity, as it is high in vitamin B-6, a vital nutrient for various bodily functions and the formation of red blood cells.

With a new perspective on health and wellness, consumers are seeing beverages in a new light. They are willing to pay a premium for beverages made with high quality and nutritious ingredients like matcha, goji berry, ginseng and kombucha. In Asia, meal replacement products like shakes, yoghurt and protein drinks are gaining traction as work-from-home consumers opt for convenience and fuss-free meals. All-natural meal replacement shake maker, Sustenance’s sales jumped 600% last year. The shakes, with calories ranging from 200 to 400, offer a well-balanced selection of major nutrients that include protein, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals – similar to that of a complete meal.

Signature meal replacement shake from Sustenance. (Photo: Sustenance FB)