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What’s trending
in the food industry

COVID-19 shifted various consumer behaviors and trends. The way we shop has changed — ecommerce, for instance, saw an enormous surge in June, generating US $73.2 billion, up 76.2% year over year. Consumers now prefer buying online rather than visiting brick and mortar shops.

Another area seeing dramatic shifts is the food industry. Consumers are more conscious about what they eat. They’re growing increasingly curious about the positive or negative effects of foods and are shopping for products that boost immunity. Two specific food groups seeing spikes in sales are plant-based meat alternatives and produce.

Plant-based meat alternatives

Major meat manufacturers were hit hard during the COVID-19 outbreak which led to a meat shortage in the US. Popular items, like chicken breasts and ground beef, became difficult to find and prices skyrocketed. Sales of plant-based foods outpaced total food sales between January and April 2020 because of the meat shortage combined with new interest in natural and organic products.

Kimchi, a traditional Korean dish made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, is one plant-based food that saw a major increase in sales. The global kimchi market was already expected to grow by US $2.39 billion from 2020 to 2024. However, COVID-19 jump started this increase. Kimchi sales surged 952% year over year during the week of February 16, 2020. Kheedim Oh, Owner of Mama O’s Premium Kimchi, needed to double his employee count during the pandemic to meet this new demand.

Fresh — and frozen — produce

Although produce isn’t a new trend, consumers are buying more fruits and vegetables than ever before to add vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to their diets. Oranges (and orange juice) specifically saw an increase in sales because of the immune-boosting power of Vitamin C.

210 Analytics, IRI, and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) studied these food trends and found that the week of March 29, 2020 saw an 8.1% increase in fresh produce sales versus the comparable week in 2019. What’s even more impressive is the 41.6% increase in frozen produce sales that same week. Consumers stocked up on frozen produce to avoid multiple grocery store trips during quarantine.

These two food categories continue to see a sustained level of sales, even post-pandemic panic buying. CEO of PMA Cathy Burns told John Caplan, President of North America and Europe B2B at, in a recent Transformer Talks that “pre-Covid sales for our [produce] products were around 2-3% of the total basket. We’re least 10% at a sustained level post-pandemic.”

Cathy continued to explain that this growing interest in immunity-boosting health foods is a core value of younger generations. Millennials and Gen Z want to be healthy and have a positive impact on the health of our planet. For that reason, Cathy explained, more young leaders should enter the produce industry. The food business can offer a rewarding career and help make the planet greener.

These changing food trends are a key reason for the category of the next US Online Trade Show: Food & Beverage. Sellers and buyers in the Food & Beverage industry can attend the show to build connections, drive innovation, and discover new products.

This week's #B2BTuesday Tip:

Industry associations are a great source of data that can help you develop a product lineup that meets market demand.

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