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How has COVID-19 Affected Consumer Trends?

In November 2019, the Nourish Marketing team put together a consumer trend report to highlight the growing movements, thoughts, habits, and tastes of consumers as it pertained to the foodservice industry. In just a few short months, COVID-19 would bring about massive change globally.

More recently, Nourish was able to revisit their original report and, taking a pulse on the current climate, updated it to reflect the present-day state of mind.

As restrictions ease across Canada and restaurants begin to reopen, taking a look at customer trends can be incredibly beneficial. Operators will need to revisit not just their physical spaces, but their menus, marketing strategies, and operations. Having insight into the consumer mindset can help assure a business doesn’t just survive, but thrives in the ‘New Normal’.

Below, you’ll find a summary of the updated report, but you can read the full piece here on the Nourish website.

Here’s a sneak peek into 2020 trends through a COVID lens:

Unpackage Me: Solutions Beyond Recycling

Prior to COVID-19, sustainability was taking centre stage as a priority for the foodservice industry. Reusable straws, biodegradable packaging, and a decrease in single-use items were top of mind for operators. Due to COVID-19, many operators turned to single-use items instead of reusable ones for health and safety reasons.

The Nourish team believes that: “Once we get past the current crisis, we expect this trend to leave the pause mode and return as disinfecting protocols are put in place for workers to safely handle reusable items. Perhaps it will result in a more cooperative model where there is one industry standard bag, container, or cup that’s used and then dropped off for sanitizing and recirculation by Industry. We’ve shown that a collective effort can make effective change. Will we refocus that effort on planet health?”

Sober Me: Rethinking Alcohol for a New Generation of Drinkers

During COVID-19, the “quarantini” became a way to signal the end of the work-at-home day. We saw alcohol sales across the board increase, which makes sense in these stressful conditions.

Nourish “anticipates a collective refocus on wellness and alcohol reduction post-COVID, with a renewed focus on immunity boosters and anxiety busters in our beverages as the new way to relax and be healthy.”

Know Me: AI and Hyperpersonalizing Foodservice

“Expect grocers to invest even more than planned in the customization of the shopping experience, especially as more shopping moves and stays online,” says Nourish. “Large foodservice providers will do the same, as contactless ordering and payment technology has proven to be the safer way.”

One of the takeaways from our recent Driving Online Revenue Panel from the Rapid Recovery Series, was that COVID-19 has fast-forwarded business for many third-party services or digital apps. They saw an increase in usage in demographics they had previously seen slow growth in. As more people become comfortable and familiar with apps and digital services, “most consumers have also accepted the tradeoff of their data privacy and security for their personal security, so that genie may never go back into the bottle. “

Keto Me: The Evolution of Lifestyle Eating From No-Carb to Slow-Carb

As bread baking and pasta making became the trend du jour during quarantine, consumers gravitated towards comfort foods. However, “post-COVID, we anticipate a refocusing on our collective waistlines, and we still expect that to be in a slower, lower carb way, rather than the hardcore no-carb way. Keto products will hold their appeal but as part of a more balanced diet and lifestyle.”

Science Me: Redefining “Real Food” in the High-Tech Era

Pre-COVID, plant-based dishes were on the rise in popularity, and whilst in quarantine, we were pulled towards comfort foods, coming out of COVID, a renewed interest in plant-based is expected.

Interestingly, “consumers have a new appreciation for science right now. It may be the thing that gets us out of this collective mess. Both Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are cleaning up their ingredient list. Consequently, we think this trend may be falling off the table.”

Head over to the Nourish site to read the November 2019 report as well as the full updated 2020 trend report.


  1. Reopened in Montreal. My easy favorite place to go on a last minute decision. It was the 3rd day open. Service was not the best, but not horrible. BUT the food that was really good before…..well 2 bad hits on the 2 different plates ordered. It use to be a really nice place to go and bring your own wine. This was a total disappointment. I guess management was not on the floor or kitchen to pay special attention. Wont be back for a long while. Restaurant owners and management, will have to really be their to make sure their standards are the same.

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