Covid Feature

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has and will continue to shape our global economy and consumer markets, leading to the biggest shift in our generation. We examine the big shifts in our consumer behaviours and how these are affecting Bakery as we face the ‘next normal’.

As many markets across the globe cautiously ease living restrictions and many consumers begin to take tentative steps into the world they once knew, it is one far different from the one they left at the start of the year. With new cases prevalent in many markets and the threat of a potential second wave, we are faced with a ‘mixed scenario’, as in most markets the virus is being managed, but not yet eliminated altogether.

This unprecedented environment has brought about significant changes not experienced before in our generation and one which is shaping the way we live our lives socially and mentally, impacting our buying behaviours and the way we must drive growth in the bakery sector.

Life after Covid-19

Mental & Physical Wellbeing

Our attitude to mental health is changing, with a bigger appreciation for it’s impact on our daily lives and something likely to become part of the healthcare system. Connection through social media has been a lifeline for consumers craving interaction and Covid has reinforced the importance of a healthy immune system, including strong mental health.

A New Rhythm of Life

Covid-19 has accelerated emphasis on slowing down our lifestyles, adopting a new rhythm of life and a notable shift from extroversion to introversion. A premium has been put on human connection, with experiences superceeding materialistic behaviours and fulfillment sought both offline and online.


Personal expression and place in society are two factors consumers will need to confront when emerging from social distancing and many will evaluate what’s worth going back to ‘normal’. Consumers are also likely to stand up for foodie brands which align closest to their values.

Outside Connections

As people have been forced to juggle work, play and relaxation in the same space, many are taking a closer look at just how well the spaces they call ‘home’ serve them and what changes they’d like to make long-term. A heightened focus on community means many are turning outward to assist neighbours and small businesses. The unofficial slogan “we’re in this together,” exemplifies the common goal.

Supercharged Tech Adoption

The short term adoption of technological behaviours will continue into the long term and eCommerce and digital transactions, in part driven by their ultimate convenience, will move further into the mainstream. Meanwhile, the impact to globalisation could be huge with a more domestic production and less complex supply chains.


Re-evaluation of what is important or necessary will breed a new lifestyle, with an impact on discretionary spending and a focus on sustainability, taste and positive health. These behaviours will be driven by the affect purchases have on their neighbours/community, the taste experiences they once knew and the quest for nutritionally-balanced foods.

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10 Big Shifts in Food

Health is Wealth

Coronavirus has had a monumental impact on our awareness for health and wellbeing and supercharged our quest for foods which deliver nutritional benefits and contribute to our wellbeing. In a bid to look after ourselves, clean label and natural ingredient decks remain priorities for many.

Functional and fortified foods that purport to support immunity with beta glucans, vitamins C, D, E, K and zinc are set to make the wish list for consumers. Baked goods with nutritional benefits such as fibre and protein will, more than ever, be central to consumer purchasing choices.

With mental wellness awareness growing further in recent months, good nutrition forms part of a collection of daily choices, which also includes sleep routine, exercise and familiar comforts, all to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Baked goods provide a hotbed of opportunity for manufacturers and bakery businesses to provide consumers with the wholesome and tasty foods they crave following recent events.

Hygiene is King

A heightened awareness for hygiene means food businesses must provide assurance to consumers that food has been prepared in a hygienic environment and displayed in secure, tamper-evident packaging, driven by a ‘fear of naked bread’. In addition, an opportunity for plant-based goods in some cases carry a higher perceived cleanliness, coupled with the well-documented environmental benefits they bring.

Price Sensitivity and Value

The financial uncertainty brought upon many households has amplified the nations sensitivity for value, raising the ultimate question: “What’s in it for me?” Whether it is taste, promotion of in-home occasions, excellent shelf life, seasonal appeal or nutritional credentials, value proposition in baked goods is more important than ever.

Plant vs. Meat

Driven by an intensified care for ourselves and the environment, plant-based and vegan food is set to surge further, under the ‘hygiene halo’. Making the plant-based choice is perceived to deliver better personal health and make a large foothold in Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). A preview of what the reduction of air pollution spurned from the pandemic has given consumers renewed hunger for plant-based and vegan foods.

Home Conveniences

The lockdown caused an overnight switch for consumers to working from home and part of that challenge was adapting the food they bought. The developing demand for healthy and convenient foods sees consumers begin to seek ready-to-bake or finish/ready-to-eat lunch and breakfast solutions and healthy snacking to stave off “sinful snacking” (snacking grew by 50% in the UK during lockdown).

Upskilled Nation

Following a period of empty time for many, followed by a gradual return to work, consumers have developed a keener understanding of food and seasons, leading to a 20% uplift in meal occasions at home. An urge to get hands-on means they may not be willing to return to their old selves and instead, looking to diversify their home-cooked meals and recreate OOH occasions. Home baking kits provide opportunity for consumers to feel like they’ve had a hand in baking, but without the extended time required to follow traditional scratch recipes.

Care for our Planet

Restrictions on travel and focus on ‘Outside Connections’ cited above, has urged consumers to champion local food/ingredients. Food loss/waste makes up around 10% of total global greenhouse gas emissions and coupled with the 43% of bread eaters/buyers willing to purchase bread products made with leftover bread goods e.g. crusts/baguettes, presents opportunity for bakers to produce items such as Crostini or Banana Bread from surplus lines.


Supercharged tech adoption has exploded onto the scene within the food sector and bakery segment, with many bakeries switching their model overnight to one which takes their core product range online, making them available direct to consumer doors. Aggregators such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat made it easy for consumers to get their favourite baked goods when lockdown began. The convenience factor for consumers and the widened reach for bakeries mean online deliveries is here for the long-term.


Stemming from the holistic comfort for consumers of classic films, programs and foods, nostalgia plays tunes in the bakery sector more than ever, with consumers craving goods which remind them of better times. Classic goods with a twist strike a balance between old and new and snack versions of old favourites play into consumers shift towards home-working.

Updated Routines

The renaissance of weekly or bulk grocery shopping has sparked consumers to seek longer shelf-life products and coupled with online platforms/apps assisting with recipe planning and budget management, has signalled a shift in weekly routines. For instore bakery goods, shelf life must be maximised and packaging optimised to serve the return of weekly shoppers.

Sources: Mintel: How Covid-19 brought the future forward (May, 2020), Kantar: How COVID-19 is impacting our eating and drinking habits (June, 2020), The Food People: Preparing for the next normal in Food & Drink – 10 biggest shifts in food and drink (May, 2020).

Bakels are committed more than ever to supporting our customers making the transition into the post-Covid world. We are here for Retail, Industrial and Craft customers, so get in contact on 01869 356400 to discover how we can work together to boost your business.