July 8, 2020

COVID-19’s Wake-Up Call: Food System Realities Reimagined Series (Part 5)

In this 5-part series, “COVID-19’s Wake-Up Call: Food System Realities Reimagined,” experts from across the AVENIR Global network and global food system are exploring five new “food system realities” brought on by COVID-19, paired with reimagined possibilities and thought starters to help bring these possibilities to life.

Reality: Food values have been flipped and face new trade-offs

COVID-19 is unrivaled by any other event in recent memory for the dramatic impact it has had on the public’s values and behaviors. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? During the pandemic, research shows that values typically at the top of the hierarchy, or those associated with materialism, self-fulfillment, adventure and other loftier aspirations, have plummeted in importance. Amid COVID-19, people are reprioritizing more foundational values, centering around family/close relationships, thrift and duty.

For food and beverage brands, this could translate to customers placing higher value on product attributes like comfort, affordability and of course, safety. With this reshuffling of priorities, it’s critical that a focus on health and sustainability do not fall out of reach or off the radar as we uncovered in part 1.

These new priority values may sometimes be perceived as at-odds, though. A comfort food might not necessarily be the healthiest. Packaging that conveys a sense of safety may not be the most sustainable. For example, many grocery stores are still enforcing bans on reusable totes, halting the momentum to reduce use of plastic bags.

With all this in mind, there are some questions for the food industry to navigate.

Reimagined: Health, comfort, safety and sustainability can [and must] coexist

There are immediate and ongoing actions that can be taken to bring these different food values to life.

Possible Paths Forward: How can your organization meet consumers (and their evolving values) where they’re at?

Interested in discussing how we can help bring these possible paths to life? We have dedicated experts tuned in to the evolving consumer food values. We are in this together to build for resiliency – drop us a line at [email protected].

Moira Allison is a Senior Account Executive at FoodMinds. She is based in Chicago.

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