The food industry has undergone rapid changes, mainly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The measures set out by the public health act have negatively impacted the health food industry. However, businesses are adopting creative measures to change these challenges into profitable opportunities. As the demand for healthy food increases, businesses are looking for ways to optimize the available opportunities while mitigating the existing challenges. The following are five challenges facing the health food industry in 2021.
1. Constant Shutdowns
Businesses in the healthy foods industry have had to adapt to the constant shutdowns caused by the global pandemic prevalence. This has raised certain concerns regarding distraction in supply and safety concerns of healthy foods. The closure of some international borders has affected the supply chain, and businesses in the food industry cannot access the necessary raw materials.
The global pandemic has created unexpected stress on the food systems, causing many immediate challenges. However, the speed at which supply chain actors have reorganized themselves to ensure the continued availability of healthy food is remarkable.
Although the demand for healthy food has been rising, businesses in the healthy foods industry have to grapple with simultaneous delays in production, transport and logistics, food processing, and the final demand due to constant shutdowns.
2. Increase in Demand for Healthy and Immunity Boosting Foods
Many people spent the better part of 2020 focusing on their health and diet. Several studies indicate that the pandemic made more people interested in healthy foods that boost their immunity. Experts indicate that the trend is set to continue in 2021. As a result, many companies have followed the trend and are jumping into the immunity trend.
Research studies indicate that companies are likely to adopt immunity-supporting ingredients as their primary theme in 2021. Also, they are looking to incorporate benefits and claims to their products that prioritize health.
Immunity-boosting products have already seen a rise in sales, and product developers are expanding their portfolios to feature those ingredients. Even though the majority of the population may receive vaccines this year, the trend is expected to continue for the next year.
According to a research study, 60% of consumers are increasingly looking for products that will boost their immunity, with 33% indicating their concerns increased in 2020. Thus, immunity is expected to be a top trend throughout the year.
3. Technological Challenges
The widespread lockdowns experienced in 2020 drastically increased the already growing demand for multiple sales channels. Those businesses in the healthy foods industry which were not adequately equipped to manage multiple sales channel struggled to adapt with the trend. The industry saw a widespread shift in direct-to-consumer sales and consumers’ shift to food consumption at home, rather than restaurant dining.
The growth in e-commerce in the healthy food industry is expected to outlast the global pandemic as many consumers are concerned with their safety. This has put pressure on the shipping industry, leading to increased shipping costs. Businesses are forced to cut down their profits since many customers are unwilling to pay shipping fees for low-priced items.
4. Upholding Safety Standards
With the world dealing with the second wave of the coronavirus in 2021, upholding the safety standards remains a crucial aspect of maintaining the high level of trust that consumers have in manufacturers. Unfortunately, it is difficult for workers in food manufacturing to work at home. Thus, keeping workers safe and restoring confidence in the available workforce will continue to be a challenge in the industry throughout 2021.
Additionally, regulatory agencies such as FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) said they would postpone their regular inspection due to the pandemic. Thus, safety will continue to be the responsibility of manufacturers.
5. A Shift to Plant-Based Options
Statistics indicate that plant-based dairy and egg products will record sales of approximately $4.3 billion in 2021 and expected to grow by 6% annually. The growth in demand for these products accelerated during the first wave of the coronavirus in 2020.
Also, consumers are more interested in sustainable products that have nutritional benefits to their bodies. Therefore, healthy food businesses are likely to see a growth in demand for these products.