Five consumer trends of the future: who the Flexiterians are

A new study by ΙΕΛΚΑ (Greek Consumer Product Research Institute) has highlighted five dietary and consumer trends that will shape the direction of the supermarket and food industry in the coming years.

The study was conducted from 5-11 November 2021 on a sample of 1000 consumers from all over Greece who answered questions regarding their food preferences (commonly purchased foods). According to the results of the study, the five trends of the future consumer are as follows:

Flexiterians and vegetarians
International demographic and cultural changes, coupled with the productive capacity of the world economy to produce animal protein, are contributing factors to the global increase in the number of consumers positioning themselves as vegetarians.

In Greece, their percentage (of all consumers) is about 4%, i.e. 400,000 citizens, half of whom identify themselves as vegans (do not consume animal products at all), and the other half as vegetarians (do not eat meat, fish, etc.).

Next to this category of consumers is the category of flexitarians or semi-vegetarians, that is, citizens who try to follow a more vegetarian diet, but not completely. This category makes up about 15% of the population, that is, about 1.5 million citizens, and is a very important social and consumer group.

Plant and laboratory-grown products
The aforementioned trend is expected to intensify the search for alternative plant-based foods to satisfy pre-existing dietary habits. For example, milk is not cow’s (of animal origin), but almond (of plant origin).

Products such as vegetable cheese, vegetable milk, laboratory meat, etc. already exist on the Greek market. After all, there is already a consumer audience that makes this choice of food (although this is a much smaller number of citizens than abroad).

The percentage of consumers who choose these categories is now impressive: 14% consume plant-based dairy products, and 11% consume laboratory meat. In addition, 19% of the population consider these alternatives to be healthier.

Reducing the amount of sugar and salt
Most consumers (especially the elderly) are expected to devote more time to diet planning as a result of higher education levels and life expectancy. People want to stay healthy longer and longer. Sugar is a typical example.

The shift to alternative sources such as saccharin and stevia appears to be gaining momentum, with 26% of the population opting for these alternatives. At the same time, 37% of those surveyed state that they usually avoid eating sweets and sugar. Even stronger is the trend towards a decrease in the amount of salt, which 48% of the population intend to abandon.

The Impact of Social Media on Nutrition
Social media will increasingly influence consumer choices as shopping, cooking and consumption are increasingly linked to the internet. 53% of chefs today offer a view of their cooking recipes (which you can familiarize yourself with and learn how to cook just by looking at your mobile phone), and 26% of Internet users actively seek advice on how to cook something through social networks.

It is no longer enough for food to be just tasty. The dish should be beautiful for 75% of the public, which is due to social media and more frequent use of videos and photos for cooking.

The speed of information dissemination and acceptance of trends is becoming faster and faster, making it imperative for businesses to follow these rhythms and consumer preferences.

Climate change and sustainable development
Climate change is expected to significantly affect the way businesses operate. Consumers are becoming more demanding and critical of the quality of products. Percentages in Greece and abroad are comparable in intent to buy from companies that act in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner.

In particular, an intention to buy based on the honesty and transparency of companies’ working methods is registered in Greece at 77%, while 67% say it is important for them that the products they consume are produced using environmentally friendly materials. However, it should be noted that only a small but significant part of the population, about 32%, is willing to pay a higher price for a product, if only it meets the above standards.

According to the study, in the near future, a delicate balance will be formed between consumer desires and the opportunities offered by companies. Organizations that can balance this fine line will emerge in the next decade and fill the market.

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