Emerging trends to watch

vitcAs we continue to navigate this coronavirus world, we find ourselves in limbo. Some counties and states are optimistic about re-opening, using a phased approach and strict guidelines to ensure the safety of employees and patrons. Other regions find themselves in the same position they were in a month ago, grappling with this new reality and waiting to flatten the curve. One thing is evident, two months into social distancing and stay-at-home orders, consumers are adjusting to this new normal and we’re seeing emerging trending topics that are affecting shopping habits and influencing what content consumers are searching for.

Plant-based proteins
Like so many industries impacted by COVID-19, animal protein producers are facing disrupted operations at their packing plants. It’s not uncommon for shoppers these days to find that their grocery store’s meat department is looking a little empty.

Plant-based food makers are seizing the opportunity and hoping to attract shoppers seeking substitutes. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have ramped up production and are offering discounts on their meat alternative products to appeal to consumers and create brand awarenessand loyalty.

Health & immunity
As coronavirus numbers go up every day, consumers are wondering “how do I keep my family healthy?” While ginger shots and green juices alone might not prevent someone from getting sick, the scientific community has long studied the effects nutrient-packed foods have on immune system function.

Due to growing fear and uncertainty around the likeliness of spread, this situation has created an acute awareness around the importance of a healthy immune system

Produce companies and health-conscious brands should use this time to mindfully promote the role nutritious foods play in improving overall health.

While consumers tend to think of citrus as the star of cold season, there are dozens of nutrient-dense foods that can play a role in minimizing inflammation, fighting off infection, and supporting a healthy immune system.

As families abide by stay-at-home orders and cooking more than ever, it’s a great time to share recipe inspiration, nutrition facts, and content around preparing healthy meals at home.

Stretching the dollar
Unemployment numbers are soaring and even those with job security are bracing themselves for what the future holds. Families and individuals are looking for ways to cut back on expenses and reduce unnecessary purchases.

Our team is seeing a lot success sharing tips to help produce last longer through washing and properly storing, buying in-season, eliminating food waste and even regrowing kitchen scraps for reuse and as a family science project to learn the magic of growing produce. The Produce Tips page on our website is seeing a lot of traffic as people navigate how to store specific items to last the longest.

Mental health
While physical health concerns are top of mind right now, we cannot forget about mental health. Every single person is feeling the burden of this pandemic be it through job loss and financial uncertainty, coping with the death of a loved one, navigating being at home 24/7, cancelling trips and important life events.

Brands should not be afraid to tackle this once taboo topic. Authenticity and open, real conversations are highly valued by today’s consumers. Continuing the cycle of overtly corporate messaging without addressing the elephant in the room is serving no one. Brands can delicately address the topic of mental health through sharing messages of positivity, solidarity, and linking up to mental health resources.

At Produce for Kids, we called on our blog contributor, Dr. Stephanie Smith, clinical psychologist and author, to share strategies for coping with stress and anxiety on our Healthy Family Project podcast. Dr. Stephanie also provided tips to help families keep the peace at home and advice for parents with teenagers facing grief and sadness.

Transitioning to summer
With schools across the U.S. switching to virtual learning, summer break feels a little different this year. While many states are easing restrictions, we aren’t quite ready for our usual schedule of summer potlucks, cookouts, and family reunions. But this doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate summer.

Weariness around surface transmission may prevent consumers from picking up recipe cards and printed materials, but retailers can still promote summer produce and recipe inspiration through digital channels. Creative use of in-store signage and cross merchandising can target consumers looking for normalcy while boosting sales.

While these trends might not align exactly with 2020 predictions released back in January, it’s important to shift and adjust and recognize this new consumer.

(Grace Vilches is the marketing coordinator Produce for Kids)

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