6 ways covid is changing food & drink

Coronavirus: 6 ways the lockdown has changed the world of food & drink

From drinking on the rise to thinking more ethically, The Metamorphosis Group’s visual retail specialist Eve Reid, talks us through some changes she’s seeing the way we shop. Here are 6 ways the lockdown has changed the world of food & drink. Leave us a comment below, and let us know how it’s changing your business.

Life in the UK has been utterly transformed in the 5 weeks since restrictions were brought in to curb the spread of coronavirus. Thankfully, alongside bicycles and exercise gear; outdoor and indoor games; home and garden, and reading material, it’s food and drinks that remains at the forefront of peoples shopping lists.

Recently, Handelsbanken’s daily email briefing to their customer’s reported ‘the winners’ in retail sales numbers. Unsurprisingly, food and alcohol are winning hands down. Sales growth for grocers is up a record 10.4% and alcohol focused stores enjoyed a jump of 31.4%. Those are some big numbers.

It’s no accident that these figures come off the back of some quite remarkable and resilient creativity from many smaller retailers quick to adapt their business models. It’s forcing other larger brands traditionally slower to react such as Mark & Spencer’s, to have to dramatically change their ways quickly in order to survive.

Number 1 ball

Homegrown Bakers & Baristas

The past 2 weeks have seen a huge spike in sales for home coffee and brewing kits. It would seem that if we can’t get our daily fix by the pros, we’re all becoming amateur at-home baristas instead.

Spurred on by stay-home measures and a longing for lattes and other premium coffee drinks, consumers have more time to master their skills. They are innovating and crafting new coffee beverages, and inspiring new coffee trends. Just look at social media. You will see an enormous amount of consumer-driven DIY coffee recipes taking over social media airwaves. Frothy coffee, coffee gelatin squares, home cold brew into granola, Stovetop lattes, cold brew sangria, coffee frosting, Irish coffee, of course! And Dalgona Coffee is the latest trend to take over the internet thanks to its versatility. You can enjoy it hot or cold, straight up or with a shot of Bailey’s at happy hour. What’s not to like about that?

It’s captured the nations’ imagination there are whole lead press articles on how to up your at-home coffee game, all spurred on by this sudden enforced extra time.

We’re also baking our own bread. In fact, baking has become one of the nations biggest boredom breakers to fill the days in lockdown. So much so it has literally resulted in shortages of flour and yeast.

Tim Sheehan from Franklins says ‘It’s like we’re all in The Great British Bake Off. Everybody literally asks me for bread, flour, yeast and eggs. Their poor children are the victims in all this sourdough – they just want a slice of Mother’s Pride and a Jaffa Cake!

What COVID-19 home trends have you seen? Share your story with us on social #realstories

Number 2 ball

Food and drink delivery has gone mad!

food_delivery: 6 ways the lockdown has changed the world of food & drink

Even before lockdown, convenience dining was increasing at a rapid rate. Popular takeaway and delivery services like ‘Deliveroo’, ‘Just Eat’ and ‘Uber Eats’ bringing restaurant-quality food to your living room. And with Covid-19, food and drink delivery has exploded.

50,000 free weekly food parcels are being sent out to clinically vulnerable people in England. All of us, in some shape or form, are demanding a doorstep dropoff of some description. Everything from baked goods, bottles of wine or a small gift to let a friend know you’re still there, the public are finding fresh ways to send it.

This has resulted in a different way of thinking and a whole host of delivery jobs suddenly up for grabs. It’s forced retailers new to the online mail-order process to start thinking about their packaging strategy and find cost-effective and efficient solutions that work.

It’s easy to think of packaging as secondary importance at this time, but actually it has an essential role to play. With demand for food, drink, medicine and other essential goods at an all-time high, a lack of available packaging to pack and ship them in, can cause significant interruption in the supply chain.

Thankfully, suppliers of protective packaging for and drink have been declared essential businesses as a result. Other countries are currently campaigning for the same recognition in order to keep their goods moving.

The pressure on packaging will only grow. With people leaving the house only for essential purchases, consumers will increasingly look to e-commerce to meet their retail needs. That will require businesses to source reliable courier service and the right protective packaging to get it there safely.

It will be fascinating to watch this creative space evolve.

 Number 3 ball

People are becoming more ‘ethically’ minded.

Sustainable packaging: 6 ways the lockdown has changed the world of food & drink

Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across continents, as countries try to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Air pollution levels in the UK have dropped significantly in the weeks since the country went into lockdown.

The Environment is benefiting, there’s no doubt. With the social and environmental impact inextricably linked, businesses, already playing catch up, are being forced by consumers, to sharpen up their environmental act fast.

I predict we will see a firm and a quick transition to sustainable and environmentally focused materials.

It will be interesting to see how the conflicting notion of Covid versus the zero packaging concerns, eventually pans out.

 Number 4 ball

Increased appetite for long-lasting food

long lasting food: 6 ways the lockdown has changed the world of food & drink

Younger generations are experiencing ‘food insecurity’ for the first time. We are buying less fresh foods while long-life foods are flying off the shelf. Is our yester-year war mentality kicking in?

Frozen and packaged food purchases continue to increase steadily. Demand is stabilising, but still, remains high.

Slowly, very slowly in some cases, we are seeing these long-lasting items appear back on the shelves. The question is when we finally come out of lock-down, will we have used our hoards of tins and beans? If not, I wonder what the impact of this will be?

 white numeral 5

Drinking is on the rise

Shoppers have apparently swapped clothes for alcohol, amid record sales drops in the fashion sector. While alcohol sales in supermarkets and corner shops have jumped a staggering 22%, we’ve seen the unfortunate demise of well-known brands like  Oasis, Warehouse, Debenhams, Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston etc

Majestic Wine Warehouse’s delivery slots had a 14 day lead time due to unprecedented demand. Aldi stopped deliveries of some of their wines to ensure they had adequate store stock. Many wine merchants that stayed open, are thriving.

In the US, tequila saw the biggest spike, up more than 75%. That underscores its status as the fastest-growing spirits segment in the U.S! It was closely followed by gin. Wine sales were up 66%. However, beer sales, in a reversal of the usual recession consumption pattern, lagged even though they still rose 42%. Sales of canned alcoholic beverages were also up there with the top performers.

What were your top sellers? #retailstories

There was one sorry alcohol story that will come as no surprise. The company that owns Corona beer faced its worst quarter in 10 years following the coronavirus outbreak. Interestingly, our natural assumption is their name as a contributing factor. However, the company believes the drop in profits is down to fewer people going out in public. Coronavirus is taking a toll on nightlife, and some brands are paying the price.

Mmmmmm, a little re-brand on the horizon maybe?

 Number 6 Ball

Gifting is more important than ever

gifting - Coronavirus: 6 ways the lockdown has changed the world of food & drink

With Amazon struggling to keep up with demand, and non-essential stores closed, isolation is creating a new demand for gifting. The gift industry has reported a sharp digital rise as the UK seeks to lift spirits of loved ones in isolation. We are a social species who thrive on connection. It’s natural that under lockdown conditions we would find new ways of connecting. That’s not to say we weren’t sending gifts before, but what’s surprising is just what consumer gifting will stretch to during covid. From sending specialist food hampers through the post to boxes of local craft beers, portrait painting kits to gifting more bizarre gifts like mail order deodorant! 

With clever packaging options like post box hampers that fit through a letterbox, there’s no longer any need for a signature. Or even a knock on the door!

Looking ahead

I’m curious to see what comes out of the other side of this. They say that it takes 4 weeks to create a habit. So will our ‘at home’ eating habits change? Or our exercise regime continue to benefit, or fall by the wayside? Will we still be drinking as much or be superstar baristas? Watch this space.

20 years from tomorrow, it’s predicted that a majority of consumers will still want more

  • Time
  • Space
  • Experiences
  • Health and Wellness
  • Safety and Security
  • Convenience
  • Flexibility/Versatility
  • Reliability/Durability
  • Sustainability

But, regardless of how we choose (or are forced) to live, I’m fairly sure food & drink will remain at the top of our agenda in one way or another.


The Metamorphosis Group has been shaping tomorrow retailers for many years now. The group specialises in visual merchandising, store design, training and consultancy. Their hands-on approach to maximising retail space for optimum performance is inspiring retailers big and small,up and down the country.
Follow Eve
@MetamorphosisGr
metamorphosisgroup.co.uk

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