The latest Tetra Pak yearly Index has revealed a shift in consumers’ attitudes and their view of the biggest challenges facing the world brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The thirteenth edition of the study also highlights that Covid-19 has dominated the concerns of consumers since its onset in 2020.
The Tetra Pak Index 2020 research, the first piece of consumer research since the onset of the pandemic, shows the changing consumer landscape driven by Covid-19 as it shaped and changed the mindsets of consumers, said Tetra Pak South Africa marketing executive Phumelele Buthelezi.
The survey found a shift in the top concerns of 2019 when compared with the top concerns that emerged in 2020.
In 2019, 63% of consumers were concerned about environmental issues, followed by health-related issues at 46% and economic issues at 40%. Thirty-three per cent of the consumers surveyed were concerned about distinguishing the truth from lies in politics and media and 30% were concerned about future food supplies and safety.
Fast forward to 2020, the top threats for consumers have become Covid-19 with 64% of consumers expressing that this was their number one concern, pushing environmental concerns, at 49%, down to second most concerning challenge for consumers.
Worries about economic issues have increased, up from 40% in 2019 to 47% in 2020, reflecting widespread concern about the impact of the pandemic on the economy, particularly employment.
Further, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant rise in global concern about food safety and future food supplies, at 40%, compared with the 30% in 2019.
Food safety and security is among the primary concerns – and challenges – within South Africa and the wider Southern Africa, with citizens worried about sourcing food, food affordability and about the hygiene and the conditions in which the food is being prepared, she continued.
In line with this, the Tetra Pak Index 2020 also highlighted how food waste is rising up the agenda and this is now seen as a concern by more than three-quarters of respondents.
Buthelezi also pointed out that new concerns have emerged, with 28% of consumers surveyed saying they are worried about fake news in politics and media.
“The biggest change between 2019 and 2020 is other health-related issues, where it moved from being in the second position in 2019 to being only 15% of consumers’ concern in 2020, being overridden once again by Covid-19,” she said.
Meanwhile, the environment still remains a top priority for the respondents.
“Here it really means we have got a dual challenge that the food industry has to face. On one side, consumers want food that is safe, but on the other side, the public also cares about the sustainability and protection of the planet,” said Tetra Pak market insights manager Francesca Francione.
“While it is true that the global pandemic has pushed the environment down the list of concerns, it still remains higher than everything else, even economic issues, in the nine markers that we have analysed.”
The survey noted that 78% of consumers are concerned about the environment and 67% believe that, unless daily habits are changed, an environmental disaster will be on the cards; however, 63% said the pandemic-related lockdowns brought about environmental improvements.
“Even in the midst of pandemic, consumers are still worried about environmental disasters,” she said, noting that while food safety and security remain top concerns, the environmental concern remains strong, leaving the food industry with the challenge of ensuring the food is safe, while ensuring packaging is sustainable and environment-friendly.