Changing food and beverage trends

grocery shoppingWhile some areas of Canada’s food and beverage sector have experienced irreversible losses due to the pandemic, it has also accelerated growth opportunities for the industry. A recent report from Farm Credit Canada (FCC) shows how certain pandemic-related trends, such as an increase in consumer spending and disposable income, and trends in food processing and manufacturing, are affecting this industry. These developments could drastically change what the “typical” Canadian food and beverage consumer looks like, post-pandemic.

Consumer trends in grocery purchases show an increased preference for categories like plant-based products, sugar and confectionery products, and fresher foods. According to the FCC report, plant-based products are capturing a greater portion of food spending, aligning with consumer demands. Likewise, lockdowns, quarantines, self-isolation and restrictions mean Canadians are searching to find comfort in the foods they enjoy. As such, sugar and confectionery products are expected to rise 12.3% in sales this year, while snacking fruits and nuts, like peanuts and peanut butter, are poised to see growth this year due to consistent demand for in-home baking. Consumers will also spend more on fresh, high-quality products in-store and through foodservice meals. The FCC is predicting consumers will purchase fewer preserved and prepared products. Peanuts and peanut butter are well situated in the coming year with their strong position as a pantry-staple and as a versatile plant-protein perfect for baking, cooking and snacking. 

Within the food processing and manufacturing spaces, economic indicators are showing strong recovery for food and beverage producers – more so than other sectors of the Canadian economy. Food and beverage manufacturing sales increased 3.5% year-over-year in 2020, with a decline in sales in foodservice that has been offset by grocery sales and exports. In addition, private label options are expected to persist in the vegetable, fruits and specialty categories. According to Food in Canada magazine, government investments in food security and safety, low interest rates, a weak dollar and a “strong demand for healthy and high-quality Canadian food,” could together bode positively for Canada’s economic recovery.