This is according to a study by researchers from the two countries whoe explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food supply chain and recovery efforts.
While the pandemic had disrupted food supply chains worldwide, it also resulted in changing consumer behaviour towards foods.
In China and India, consumer buying habits have changed with increased focus on food safety, home consumption and healthy and vegan foods. Food and beverage companies are introducing new services and programs to counter this massive change.
So, this research presented the trends expected to continue post-pandemic. It was published in the Foods journal.
With reports of the COVID-19 virus residing in foods and surfaces, the study says consumers are increasingly valuing hygiene and food safety, and firms should offer solutions to gain consumers trust.
Consumers are willing to pay more for food that is safe, sustainable, and ethically produced.
In China, researchers said firms should improve visibility and transparency in their supply chains, and consider technological advances like blockchain.
India’s food and beverage sector is also seeing temperature control, regular cleaning, use of masks, and safe packaging systems as the new norms.
During the pandemic, various restrictions were imposed, especially limiting dining out. So people resorted to eating at home whether cooking their own meals or ordering food deliveries.
In China, online shopping is popular, became even more popular during the pandemic, when elderly people started using these.
Researchers said: “An easy-to-use interface, simple images, and easy-to-read product descriptions are needed to fuel the trend and increase the popularity of food delivery among this demographic.”
In India, the trend was towards pre-packaged or customised at-home experiences.
“Previously, a limited number of players as a niche product were pursuing this trend, but since the pandemic, these interactions have become a common service category within the industry. Private catering services with the option of “cooking at home” ingredient packages are available from most hospitality brands,
‘It is expected that a substantial portion of the population will use this service long after the pandemic has ended to cope with the fear of another outbreak,” researchers wrote.
Vegan and healthy foods
Another trend seen is the rise of vegan and healthy foods.
In China and India, there has been a significant change in consumer preferences for vegan and organic foods.
Many businesses opened in late 2019 and early 2020 with an emphasis on organic, farm-to-table vegan products.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers think this pattern is likely to become a way of life for many in the coming years.
“Given the rising number of coronavirus cases in the world, the numerous health- and immunity-boosting benefits of an organic, vegan diet are becoming increasingly common. As a result, “vegan only” restaurants and labels marketing plant-based products are projected to grow in popularity.
“In addition, the Indian diet is predominantly vegan-friendly, most consumers will find the change and adoption to be fast and painless,” they said.
This research outlines the trends expected to continue for a medium to long term period in China and India.
Food and beverage companies are expected to deliver services that are more personalised, customer-focused, and creative through digitalisation.
Due to stringent policies, prompt responses and technological advancements during COVID-19, health and safety will be strengthened and operations will also become less labor-intensive in both nations.
Researchers said this study will be helpful in employing strategies, and responsive measures by the two Asian giants in future unanticipated events such as COVID-19.
The information obtained in this research were derived from journals (PubMed, Sciencedirect, Google scholar, various webpages such as the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 dashboard and country-specific websites including National Bureau of Statistics of China and Food Safety and Standard Authority of India.
“Investigation of COVID-19 Impact on the Food and Beverages Industry: China and India Perspective”
Authors: Shafique Ul Rehman Memon, et al.