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Podcast Report: Navigating Nutritional Trends during the Coronavirus

12 May 2020 by Asian Consumer Intelligence


We caught up with Pedram Assadi, COO of Foodpanda in APAC, and Asian Consumer Intelligence founder Nicole Fall, along with Monette Montaño (ACI Head of Research) in our pilot FHA Insider podcast where they delved into nutritional trends during the coronavirus pandemic. This episode brings to light developing consumer behaviors that are impacting the F&B space but potentially shaping the future for industry players and businesses.

Themes of “balancing health and indulgence,” “supporting the local community,” as well as “coping with the new normal” round up the flow of the discussion in this episode.

Health on Check

Consumer preferences have been geared towards health-conscious selections and are leaning to more nutritionally dense items such as fruits, vegetables and grains. According to Assadi, Foodpanda search patterns in Asian countries such as Thailand and Singapore are surging with terms such as “acai”, “salad”, “quinoa”, “vegetarian.” An increase in orders for grocery items containing Vitamin C for delivery service Pandamart, as well a growth in the number of wellness-oriented restaurants who’ve joined Foodpanda in the past months, also appear to have been a direct effect of this shift to healthier eating habits.

Asian Consumer Intelligence chimes in with its own data extracted from flavor tracker Capchavate on which products and ingredients consumers are currently of interest. In the Philippines, local citrus fruits such as Dalandan and Calamansi are said to be having a moment because of their immunity-boosting properties. A growing interest in virgin coconut oil for its lauric acid, as well as a variety of mushrooms’ flu-fighting components including Betaglucans were also noted.

Although people are buying more in the categories of health and functionality, ice cream and other indulgent treats also remain in carts. “Chocolates and chips somehow ease the burden of being in the lockdown but we are seeing a trend towards healthier alternatives such as low-sugar and low-fat options,” says Montaño.

Commenting on the proliferation of better-for-you options in the market, Assadi points out that “People still have a check and balance system, and if we order something that’s not too healthy, we balance it out the next day with some healthy items. That’s what we see in our consumer behaviors.” He continues: “We don’t discriminate against any cuisine but it’s important to be balanced.”

 Eating Local

With the coronavirus disrupting the food supply chain and closing borders, its impact on small to medium sized restaurants has been immense. To help these restaurants reach their customers, Foodpanda operations fast-tracked the on-boarding and activation process for local businesses and start-ups across the region. “There’s a lot of history and nostalgia that we want to support.  These small medium sized restaurants grew by 40% more than all the other average restaurants. Consumers are ordering from their local heroes. And from our side, we support with premium placements and marketing campaigns,” says Assadi.

Meeting the “New” Mindset

With challenges and uncertainty surrounding the food industry, we’re anticipating a renewed vigor in rolling out innovations and service enhancements that will benefit consumers and businesses in a positive way. “We believe Q-Commerce or quick-commerce is the next phase in e-commerce. Where people can order anything and have it under 30 mins. We hope that that becomes the new norm. This can be food, essential services and even flowers… bypassing a lot of outdated supply chains and warehouses that exist,” asserts Assadi.

In the realm of nutrition, we expect to see more advancements in the role of specific ingredients in maintaining and improving health. According to Montaño: “People can look forward to products with functional ingredients that affect not only body immunity but mental health, bringing cognition and stress-relief to the forefront with exciting prospects for both manufacturers and consumers.”

So what? Healthier ingredients balanced with a side of indulgence provide consumers with functional as well as emotional support, a renewed focus on community and a drive to support these new ‘local heroes’ along with a push to greater efficiency with shorter delivery times point to positive trends during these uncertain times.

Listen to the podcast here.
Discover similar reports by Asian Consumer Intelligence here.