Trends seen in Canada’s natural, organic and wellness industries – spawned or accelerated by the pandemic – can offer new or increased opportunities for foreign food exporters.
The pandemic laid bare the importance of increasing Canadians’ capacity to care for themselves. Eating healthier, focusing on mental health, and preventing illness became top consumer priorities. Subsequently, Canadians have been incorporating high quality natural food products (like chia seeds) into their daily diets to increase fibre consumption and support gut health. They are also looking for ways to simplify health solutions and incorporate them into their established routines; i.e., protein-packed coffee (hot or cold) that tastes great, and adding other functional ingredients to give them a daily dose of wellness.
Increasing sales are visible in these categories:
- Alcohol-free beverages – a growing consumer desire for these drinks has resulted in a wave of innovative products coming to market, including sour beers, zero-proof spirits, and ready-to-drink mocktails,
- Better-for-you snacks, including jerky meat, sugar-free candy, plant-based and high protein snacks,
- Sports nutrition – not only for athletes but also for weekend warriors, walking groups, and sports parents,
- Wellness supplements (such as elderberry) to strengthen the immune system against colds and flu, and
- Cognitive health and mood supplements.
While few are willing to sacrifice great taste for health, consumers love it when the two combine. Three in five shoppers try to find healthier versions of their favourite indulgent foods, rather than eliminating them altogether. And new supplements (such as apple cider vinegar gummies) that promote long-term health are resonating with consumers.
The Canadian Health Food Association commissioned a study this fall to find out how the past few years have shaped Canadian consumer views on natural, organic, and wellness products. Among the key findings:
- 92% of Canadians place high importance on eating healthy,
- 57% of Canadians say they try to buy natural/organic food at least occasionally,
- 1 in 10 Canadians are wellness super consumers – early adopters, passionate and influential about natural, organic and wellness products,
- Most Canadians are still omnivores, but this is changing – vegetarian diets are increasingly popular among younger generations, immigrants, and wellness super consumers, and
- Attributes like taste, availability (where consumers buy groceries), and price top consumers’ lists when it’s time to choose food brands.