Food & Beverage Consumers Are More Health-Conscious Than Ever Before

If there’s anything we’ve come to treasure more over the last few years, it’s our health, our friends, and our families. The pandemic brought into perspective what’s most important in our lives, and data from our ShareThis audience reflects how that’s translated into our new habits. Whether that’s being more choosy at the supermarket, keeping up with our personal health, or finding alternative ways of dining out, the way we care for ourselves and our bodies is changing for the better—and these trends give marketers important clues as to how they can attract buyers in this intensely competitive space.

Food and Function

Everyone knows that food is fuel—but now more than ever, we’re looking more closely at how our food serves us. In efforts to boost their health and protect their bodies from future illness, consumers are keeping a sharper eye on functional foods: foods with enhanced nutritional properties that provide health benefits like increased immunity. 

Brands are including ingredients like vitamin C, probiotics, and collagen to attract functional food buyers. Phrases such as “immunity-boosting” and “immune support” are also more prominent, with a 26% increase in interest in immune protection. This is a key signal that savvy marketers can use to grab attention by focusing on ingredients and building stories around immunity-boosting features.

Percent Share of Most Popular Added Health Benefits By Volume of Behavioral Signals

The most popular health benefits added by volume of behavioral signals is Vitamin C at 31% with Probiotic behind it at 23%.

A Toast to Health

Food isn’t the only thing seeing changes on the shelf. Alcohol sales have met with significant transformations, with hard seltzer down 52% from 2021 and zero-proof (non-alcoholic) drinks rising a staggering 55% in popularity. 

Rather than visiting their local bar or pub, more consumers are taking their drinks home from supermarkets in ready-to-drink mixes found in cans or bottles and enjoying organic wines and low- to no-calorie beverages from the comfort of their living rooms. When they do go out, we’re seeing spicy cocktails start to trend for this summer.

Percent Change Year-Over-Year in Behavioral Signals, April 2021 vs April 2022

Between April 2021 and April 2022, behavioral engagement with Zero Proof beverages has grown +55% while engagement with Hard Selzers has decreased -52%.

Cooking in Comfort

Some habits die hard. With DIY home-cooking on a 6% decline, many consumers are turning to ready-made meal kits (no cooking required) as well as cook-it-yourself meal kits. By and large, consumers are back to the easier ready-made options over cook-it-yourself meal kits, and we’re seeing grab-and-go products up an average of 21% this spring. 

All of this indicates that our personal lives are getting busier again as people find themselves out and about rather than at home with time to cook. For marketing teams, specifically in the ready-made food category, this may indicate that now is the time to offer strong initial incentives to make consumers’ lives feel easier and more delicious.

Percent Split of Readymade Meal Kit Delivery versus Meal Kits to Cook Yourself

Comparing different types of Meal Kits, interest in Readymade Meal Kits (72%) dominates interest in Cook Yourself Meal Kits (28%).

Healthy Sweets, Treats, and Good Eats

Everyone knows that one tiny supermarket aisle that contains the healthy snacks—typically with more expensive organic ingredients and alternative sweeteners. While once a niche concept, the healthy snack has exploded in popularity recently, with more and more brands opting for fewer preservatives, sugars, and more natural ingredients to attract savvy, health-conscious buyers.

However, although healthier choices are on the rise, sweet tooths aren’t going anywhere—consumers are satisfying their cravings with creative charcuterie boards loaded with small portion sizes of their favorite treats, candies, and munchies. In addition, the trending concept of “swalty” (sweet and salty) is booming across tastebuds everywhere, with everyone looking to find that elusive balance of sweet and salty goodness—and brands considering new products should consider leaning into this trend.

Average Monthly Growth of Sweets & Snacks Trends, Over the Last Six Months

Over the last six months, the top two increasing snack trends are "no added preservatives" (+47%) and "no added sugar" (+43%)

No Contact? No Problem

If there’s one thing that the pandemic streamlined, it was the dining-out experience. The advent of contactless ordering was strange at first, but many consumers aren’t looking back. From scanning a QR code for a menu to ordering from your favorite restaurant through an app, contactless dining is here to stay, with sentiment showing more consumers fully accepting the concept rather than puzzling over it. And with just how easy going contactless is making our experiences, it’s no surprise that diners are accepting it as the new, wonderful norm.

Sentiment for Contactless Ordering Technology

Sentiment toward QR codes and Mobile Ordering reflect minimal negative responses for either (7% for QR codes and 10% for Mobile Ordering)

Food for Thought

As people return to the lives they once led, they’re looking for easy meal solutions that pack a nutritional punch. We’ve left behind the long hours in the kitchen, but consumers are still prioritizing their health with added benefits that can bolster their immune systems against whatever comes next. 

Thirsty for more juicy data? Reach out today to discover how you can use these trends for your local markets.

About ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

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