October 18, 2022

Digital sector remains popular with consumers post-pandemic, SIAL Insights finds

SIAL Insights offers visitors access to eye-opening analysis of the world’s major consumption trends and their developments, with assistance from expert partners NPD, Kantar and ProtéinesXTC.

Digital technology continues to play an important role in every aspect of consumers’ relationship with food, according to SIAL Insights. The global pandemic required customers to confined at home. Thus, they turned to online shopping platforms to purchase essential household products.

Digital technology gave consumers the opportunity to shop regularly while feeling safe and maintaining a social distance, through digital services like online shopping and click and collect. These advantages gained new and lasting converts, even in the most mature markets such as Asia which is the leader in every category. In fact, Asia accounted for 45% of total online sales for consumer products in 2022, nearly double the amount of the United States and Western Europe.

In Western countries, innovative services like subscription boxes and meal kits, plus improved accessibility have helped keep online shopping platforms popular, according to the SIAL report.

Evidently the digital sector remains popular among consumers. A study from Kantar showed that the sector has remained largely unscathed by the pandemic. When comparing 2021 and 2020, there was a 2.1% point increase in the overall growth of the global food market. There was also a 15.8% increase in global food product e-commerce during the same period.

Furthermore, an increasing number of consumers (40%) are using e-commerce platforms. This segment of the market is also using e-commerce more frequently – ten times or more per year. This is compared to 2019, when 31.6% of respondents used e-commerce – at around 7 times per year.

China and South Korea have been identified as two of the biggest users of e-commerce. There is an 88.8% and 87.1% usage rate in China and South Korea respectively, while usage rates are reported to be around 35% in Western Europe.

Online information allows for transparency and traceability

Half of survey respondents said they actively seek out information about the food they are eating, with the internet being a crucial platform.

Apps that analyse food labels have proved to be particularly successful with consumers. The focus is no longer on just the product, but also accompanying information that proves decisive when a customer makes a purchase. Brands and retailers know this, and have adapted their offering on-pack information that also mentions supply, source and quality of ingredients.

In the future, it is thought that consumers will receive as much information as possible about the supply chain, with production and livestock conditions all to feature at the forefront of a product’s messaging.