Frozen food and e-commerce emerge as Asia’s COVID-19 retail winners

7 Jun 2021

Frozen food and e-commerce channels have been two of the food industry success stories to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and nation-wide lockdowns that triggered significant shifts in shoppers’ behaviour in Asian markets.

This is according to data from a global YouGov report, International FMCG/CPG Report 2021: Consumer goods in a crisis. The report analysed 17 markets globally and questioned over 4,000 consumers from four across Asian markets – India, China, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.

Frozen food and e-commerce emerge as Asia’s COVID-19 retail winners

Out of all global regions, frozen food has seen the biggest jump in popularity in Asia-Pacific, with demand particularly strong in Hong Kong, where nearly three in five say they are buying more (58%) and just 3% say they are buying less frozen vegetables.

“In fact, APAC markets account for the top two ‘increasers’ on a global scale: Hong Kong (58%), Singapore (40%), and even at the lower end tend to hover around the global average (Australia 29%),” reads the report. “However, India is an outlier: a greater proportion of consumers have decreased their consumption of frozen foods than in any other market featured in our study (38%).”

Demand for kitchen cupboard staples, such as dry pasta, rice, spreads and tinned vegetables, rose by 30% in all markets around the world but this rose to almost half (49%) in Hong Kong while Singapore saw a rise in demand for fresh fruit and vegetables with around half of all grocery shoppers saying they increased their intake.

“The pandemic hasn't had a one-size-fits-all impact on shopping behaviour in the FMCG/CPG sector, said Chris Todd, vice president of new business sales at YouGov. “There are very real differences between different markets and it will be interesting to track how these behaviours continue to change - or whether they are more reflexive and we eventually return to the way things were.”

Shopping locally

YouGov’s APAC-specific data shows that Asian consumers are broadly more likely to use convenience stores for groceries and household essentials than supermarkets compared to shoppers in most other markets. In Indonesia (54%), Hong Kong (48%), China (44%), Singapore (37%) and India (35%), people shop in convenience stores and corner shops in “significantly higher proportions” elsewhere in the world, write the analysts.

Indonesia and India also came top for buying from local businesses with 77% of consumers stating their intentions to make local purchases. However, consumers in other Asian countries showed some of the lowest global levels of demand for locally produced goods, with less than half of consumers in Hong Kong (49%) and just 54% of Singaporeans.

Despite the massive challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented for local retailers, there are some silver linings, the YouGov analysts write.

“[…] local businesses can probably take heart from the fact that most people intend to support them once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Alongside their good intentions in this area, most consumers also plan to adopt a more sustainable approach to their buying habits in future (54%). Of course, there can be a wide gap between people’s stated values and their eventual actions. In 2022 we will see how successful these efforts to buy greener, more local products have been – assuming the pandemic is over by then.”

E-commerce preferences

Consumers Asian-Pacific countries also came top globally for interest in and intent to use online shopping and delivery services. YouGov data shows the three most populous countries in Asia, India, China and Indonesia, have a high proportion of consumers - 67%, 64% and 63% respectively - who want to use online shopping and delivery more.

Even in Asian countries where interest in e-commerce was lower, the figures were still over half: notably, 53% of Singapore citizens and 53% of Hong Kong citizens.

Finally, the report reveals national differences regarding specific e-commerce preferences. While French people have a greater preference for click-and-collect than for direct-to-the-home delivery (18% versus 13%), 40% of Singaporeans want groceries delivered to their doorstep while just 6% are willing to collect it themselves - a marked 34-percentage point difference, the analysts note.

“There are straightforward drivers of this. Not only is having groceries delivered more convenient than picking them up – even taking into account delivery fees – but with many areas under stay-at-home orders, some consumers had a powerful disincentive to leave the house for anything but the most important reasons,” write the analysts.

“In markets such as Singapore, for example, population density makes driving (and therefore click and collect) less attractive; in markets where the population is less dense, the reverse may be true.”

Related categories

Related tags

Market News Research

Related news

Nestlé’s Sweet Earth moves into snacking aisle with plant-based jerky

Nestlé’s Sweet Earth moves into snacking aisle with plant-based jerky

2 Jun 2021

Nestlé-owned Sweet Earth Foods has a new plant-based jerky on supermarket shelves that come in two flavors: Spicy Kung Pao Jerky and Sweet Korean BBQ. While the Kung Pao flavor is now on sale, the company announced that the Sweet Korean variety will be...

Read more 
European Parliament allows ‘buttery’ adjectives on dairy-free products

European Parliament allows ‘buttery’ adjectives on dairy-free products

28 May 2021

In a u-turn from its policy last fall, the European Parliament dropped Amendment 171 and will allow manufacturers to use descriptive terms like “buttery” and “creamy” to describe plant-based products.

Read more 
Cultured meat startup Eat Just gets $170M

Cultured meat startup Eat Just gets $170M

27 May 2021

Eat Just announced its Good Meat division, which is responsible for producing the world’s first commercially-available cultured meat product, received $170 million in funding from UBS O’Connor, Graphene Ventures and K3 Ventures. With this influx in fun...

Read more 
Plant-based chicken maker Daring raises $40M in latest funding round

Plant-based chicken maker Daring raises $40M in latest funding round

26 May 2021

Plant-based chicken making Daring announced it closed a $40 million Series B funding round led by D1 Capital Partners. Additional participation came from Canadian rapper Drake as well as existing investors Maveron and Palm Tree Crew. This funding round...

Read more 
Access in the spotlight this World Hunger Day

Access in the spotlight this World Hunger Day

21 May 2021

The Hunger Project has made huge progress in reducing global hunger, but Covid-19 has worsened poverty and limited food availability in many communities. This World Hunger Day, the focus is on access – to food, but also to essential resources like educ...

Read more 
Equinom and Dipasa partner to produce a high-protein sesame seed

Equinom and Dipasa partner to produce a high-protein sesame seed

20 May 2021

Israeli plant-based nutrition company Equinom teamed up with Mexican sesame processor Dipasa to create a high-protein sesame concentrate. Equinom will use its AI technology to develop the new variety while Dipasa will process it and deliver it to the m...

Read more 
Indian food brand gives Ayurvedic ingredients global appeal

Indian food brand gives Ayurvedic ingredients global appeal

20 May 2021

Ayurvedic food brand Sattviko says it wants to spark an Indian superfood revolution by using traditional Ayurvedic ingredients in modern, convenient formats.

Read more 
Ingredion and Amyris partner up on a fermented Reb M sweetener

Ingredion and Amyris partner up on a fermented Reb M sweetener

19 May 2021

Ingredion and Amyris struck a $100 million deal that makes Ingredion the exclusive global licensing partner for Amyris’ Rebaudioside M stevia sweetener, according to a press release. The price tag includes $75 million for the exclusive license to sell ...

Read more 
UAE looks to become global food tech hub

UAE looks to become global food tech hub

18 May 2021

The first phase of the United Arab Emirates’ new Food Tech Valley was launched on May 1, Gulf Business reported. This economic zone is focused on four main innovation clusters in the food tech space: agricultural technology, including bioengineering an...

Read more 
Impossible Foods heads for school cafeterias

Impossible Foods heads for school cafeterias

17 May 2021

Impossible Foods will be “widely entering” school breakfast and lunch programs in the fall of 2021, the company announced in a release. This foray into the public school system was made possible following Impossible Foods’ acquisition of the Child Nutr...

Read more