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Nutritional Trends during the Coronavirus

16 April 2020 by Food&HotelAsia

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While there are potentially life-saving reminders from health experts that increase protection against the coronavirus, eating a well-balanced diet supercharged with vitamins and immune-boosting nutrients seems to be one advice that people are taking seriously.

According to Google Trends, the search phrases “foods to boost immunity” and “vitamin C” are among the top queries trending worldwide, as individuals look for ways to cope with a pandemic in whatever way they can. Asian Consumer Intelligence writes a special report on which food and ingredients are gaining popularity in the region amid the outbreak and why.

In Singapore, vitamin demand is said to have jumped five-fold in just two weeks as of February 26, with orange and citrus fruit products flying off supermarket shelves along with rice and noodles. Non-mainstream ingredients such as Lingzhi (mushroom) and Cordyceps (fungus) commonly used in TCM for strengthening the immune system, also gained popularity, as consumers looked across categories to find ingredients that might help them.

Moving to China, we note a significant increase in sales of fresh produce in both online and offline channels. According to JD.com, sales of vegetables increased by 450% between January to February 2020, compared to same period last year. A shift to less consumption of sugar, most likely due to people taking on healthier eating habits, also impacted the demand for sugar-free drinks and fruit teas. For the first time in 4 years, the sugar free series of Chinese tea brand Nayuki outperformed their popular cheese tea line.

Major dairy industry players in China, in coordination with national government bodies, also played a vital role in influencing consumer’s food choices, as they have recently formed a set of guidelines for daily milk consumption for the general public in light of recent events. The information stresses not only the significance of dairy products in improving gut health but also its functions in the body’s fight against viruses. Milk components include lactoferrin, which prevent viral invasion on the cellular level, as well as immunoglobin, which are antibodies that protect against infections.

In the Philippines, scientists are hopeful with recent studies pointing to coconut as a possible treatment for patients with coronavirus. Experts are exploring the antiviral properties of lauric acid and monolaurin which are found in virgin coconut oil. Officials involved in the study are also calling this innovative approach “virtually risk-free” and affordable with tremendous benefits. Its not a substitute for medicine but viewed as a potential complimentary approach that could help infected recover more speedily.

Finally, in India, we see local start-up Protein Bread indicate a major rise in their sales in retail stores, as well in their own website and Amazon, during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis. According to the company’s spokesperson, the 20% jump mid-March can be attributed to consumers, “who are now deciding to eat right,” buying into the high-protein and high-fiber content of their bread which constitutes a more holistic nutrient profile.

So what? Amid the fog of fake news and chaotic hoarding, we see a “back to basics” movement in people during this global health crisis, with people turning to what they know to be healthy and good for the body. From fruits to milk to bread, consumers are aware of what they need to be purchasing (and not purchasing) but appreciate alternatives that elevate these familiar comfort foods into more complete and innovative versions.

Find more similar reports on Asian Consumer Intelligence website here.