Foods that boost immunity, metabolism and improve mental health are becoming more sought after during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 77% of consumers saying they want to do more to increase their health habits for the future, according to new research from Chicago-based food processing company Archer Daniels Midland.
The research, as reported by FoodDive, indicates that plant-based diets — as alternatives to meat-centric meals — continue to be a growing trend. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) found that 18% of consumers in the U.S. purchased their first plant-based protein products during the pandemic, with 92% saying they’ll continue to buy them.
The news comes on the heels of separate research from Stanford Medicine scientists published in August, which revealed that a diet including an average of two servings of plant-based meat alternatives can lower some cardiovascular risk factors as compared to a diet with the same serving size of animal meat. And plant-based products appear to be selling better alongside real meat. A study by Kroger, America’s largest grocery store chain, found that plant-based meat sold better in the beef aisle during the pandemic, suggesting perhaps that meat-eaters are increasingly looking for alternative protein options.
Consumers are also buying more greens, citrus-containing fruits, spices and herbal beverages with immune-boosting benefits, with 57% of global consumers saying they’re more concerned about using food as fuel to fight off disease, according to the ADM survey.
What’s more, 51% surveyed said they’re looking for protein-rich foods that will help boost metabolic health to maintain weight, especially with more people working from home and going out less frequently resulting in more of a sedentary lifestyle.
Still, even before the pandemic hit, more consumers were making healthier eating choices. A separate survey of 1,600 consumers from L.E.K. Consulting, conducted in 2018, found that 63% tried to eat healthy most or all of the time, and were seeking out labels with fewer ingredients, non-GMOs and no preservatives.