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  • Author: Christina Howlett, Dairy Sector, Bord Bia - The Irish Food Board

     

    As Covid-19 restrictions are gradually easing, we are all adjusting to a ‘new normal’. Irish dairy companies can use this as an opportunity to address the emerging needs of the post-Covid dairy consumer, who will be looking for health and comfort in the impending recession. Dairy will be reappraised as a nutritious, indulgent and affordable staple. (Mintel, 2020)

     

    Affordable nutrition ‘hack’ for preventative health

    Consumers are paying greater attention to their health due to the pandemic, and are seeking ways to strengthen their immune system. In Asia, products that help consumers take a proactive approach to their health are popular, and dairy brands are encouraging the consumption of immunity supporting products, but also educating on the benefits of hygiene, mental health and a good night’s sleep.

     

    India can easily inspire dairy brands looking to offer immunity benefits with local, accessible ‘superfood’ ingredients. Herbs and spices are promoted by Indian government as immunity boosters (e.g. turmeric + hot milk). Channelling the success of Actimel, dairy can be the vehicle for daily immunity boosts. The National Health Commission of China, backed up by Covid-19 medical experts, have put forward ‘Guidelines for the Prevention of Covid-19’ which recommends a daily intake of 300g of milk.

     

    Protein and calcium are nutrients that can be leveraged to support consumers who seek ways to protect their health with food. There is growing evidence of the link between protein and healthy aging and delaying the onset of age-related muscle loss’. To parents, brands should be spelling out, in detail, all micronutrients available in the product – from calcium to iodine. (Mintel, 2020)

     

    Affordable pleasure

    Covid-19 has spurred on a movement where consumers are finding comfort in cooking. These consumers will look for dairy products that are within budget, convenient, pleasurable and versatile.

     

    Similar to the 2008-09 recession, consumers are turning to baking as a low cost leisure activity. In the UK, saving money drives 26% of home bakers. Without being sold at premium price, limited editions (e.g. adult flavours) can be positioned as luxurious. Blending dairy with plant based ingredients can be another route to affordability worth rejuvenating.

     

    Food is becoming more and more a source of amusement. Dalgona coffee, of TikTok fame, which originated in South Korea, has come to symbolise how consumers turned to food as entertainment during lockdown. (Mintel, 2020)

     

    Security, sustainability and adaptability will deliver long term success

    In the long term, the pandemic will put emphasis on adaptable, secure, sustainable and local dairy companies. In the next decade, successful companies will be those that work to improve the health of the planet and its population. Consumers will turn to companies displaying good corporate citizenship to be the leading forces for environmental and public health change. (Mintel, 2019)

     

    Smaller businesses are particularly at risk due to the collapse of the foodservice industry, but coming out of this pandemic there are certain trends that will accelerate over the course of the next few years. There will be a continued investment in off-premise (e.g. take-aways/deliveries), and decreased emphasis on ‘made-to-order’ and self-service (Bord Bia, 2020).

     

    In conclusion, consumers will focus on preventative health and in the impending recession, dairy will offer affordable nutrition to consumers who are looking to strengthen their immune system. Consumers will also expect dairy companies to trade in a ‘caring’ manner towards the environment, their consumers and suppliers, including farmers. Many of these trends were imperative in the future, but Covid-19 is simply speeding them up.

     

    References:

    1. Bord Bia (2020) COVID-19 Impact on Irish Foodservice Industry. Bord Bia and Technomic
    2. Roux C (2020) Dairy in a Post-Covid World. Mintel
    3. Mintel (2019) Global Food and Drink Trends 2030.