- Bosco Ferrao
The Food & Beverage sector shifting back into gear is a sign of slow but a stead recovery, catering to younger health-conscious consumers could help the industry return to its former glory, as new research shows that more than a quarter of customers would be happy to pay premium prices for healthier products.
A recent study in Asia and Middle east showed that 27 per cent of consumers would pay nearly double the price for ‘healthy’ drinks that contain low/no sugar, natural/no additives, or vitamins and minerals. The younger consumers (aged 18-24 years) were more likely than older diners to be interested in healthy drinks. And that those who ate out more often, were more willing to pay a larger premium for the privilege.
It’s a welcome finding for a sector that’s been hit hard by the pandemic, but it’s also a step in the right direction in terms of public health, says lead researcher UniSA’s Associate Professor Rob Hallak.
“As COVID-19 restrictions ease, many people are re-embracing the café lifestyle. But hand in hand with increased patronage, comes a long-standing criticism that the sector provides food and drinks that are too high in fat, salt, and sugar.
“While nutritional content in foods has gradually improved over the years, drinks that are high in sugar and calories are still prevalent in the restaurant and café sector.
“Our research shows that there’s a relatively untapped market of younger, health-conscious consumers, particularly in relation to drinks.
“Our study highlights the need for a collaborative effort among governments, beverage manufacturers, and the hospitality sector in increasing the variety and supply of healthy product options. The middle east has relatively embraced this along with their health and safety laws while on the other side India where there is a huge potential to tackle this change has a long way to go.
“By developing new products that are healthy, taste good, and reasonably priced, the take-away and dine-in restaurants could reinvigorate the sector.
“Hospitality firms and beverage manufacturers are dealing with well-informed consumers who read product labels and assess ingredients and additives. So, the healthiness of the product must be scientifically supported and validated by reputable bodies.”
“Drink sales represent up to 40 per cent of foodservice revenues. By improving the healthiness of dining out (or eating in) across the entire menu, including drinks, restaurants could really capitalise on this opportunity.
“It will be interesting to see who moves first in this space; the market is right there for the taking.”