How COVID 19 is reshaping the drinks industry

As coronavirus became a global pandemic, the business world was shaken up in each and every sector – and food and drink were no exception. Now, as consumers begin to reintegrate into society following many months of lockdown, people are no longer seeking out the same beverages they did just a few months earlier.

With health at the forefront of most people’s minds, consumers are thinking far more carefully about what – and where – they drink. Similarly, with all bars or restaurants shut for months on end, many have gotten used to indulging in premium food and drink from the comfort of their own homes.

Rather than fleeting trends, I believe that these are signs of new consumer behaviours that, accelerated by the impact of coronavirus, will only become more entrenched.

Your favourite drinks, delivered

While the retail, travel, advertising and travel sectors among those hit hardest by the coronavirus, other industries like food and drink deliveries, health and e-commerce have surged. For example, such demand even prompted the pub retailer Greene King to offer food and drink deliveries, which can be ordered by its own app.

Yes, bars, pubs and restaurants have reopened but, with the need for social distancing measures, have reduced customer capacity. In addition, the ongoing threat of new infections and less disposable income among consumers will mean normal customer levels will take some time to revert to normal. Meanwhile, many shoppers will stick to the convenience (and safety) of supermarket deliveries.

Those who missed the interesting and unpredictable varieties of food and drink found in bars and restaurants have become accustomed to receiving regular selection boxes full of exotic snacks and tipples during lockdown.

There is great consumer demand for craft, alcoholic-free drinks

This trend may have been the reason our own CRAFTED mango and passion fruit juice drink was picked as craft mixer for the Craft Gin Club’s July box. Many food and drinks brands will likely seek a place for their products in these selection boxes. Others may have to rethink distribution altogether, ensuring they are able to offer delivery to their customers.

By priming their beverages for delivery, drinks brands will be able to boost sales and reach new audiences post-COVID-19.

Less alcohol, please

Before the coronavirus threat emerged, an increasing number of people were consuming less alcohol, or had stopped drinking altogether. Pre-lockdown, one fifth of people in the UK were teetotal, with 16-24-year-olds least likely to drink. This trend is now likely to have evolved further.

An Opinium survey found that one in three – around 14 million people – were trying to reduce or stop drinking alcohol during the lockdown. Some six percent stopped drinking altogether, while 18 percent said they were drinking more.

Naturally, fewer drinkers will make for decreased alcohol consumption. However, teetotallers have considerably less choice than alcohol drinkers, who have been spoiled by the craft revolution. There are few tasty, alcohol-free and distinctly craft alternatives to the likes of beer, gin and cider, with only the standard artificial, sugary options widely available.

Despite the dearth of options, there is great consumer demand for craft, alcoholic-free drinks. Cracker Drinks’ research has found there to be more demand for premium juice drinks than any other craft drink – even beer!

A question of quality

A trip to a pub, bar, or restaurant to be waited on with a revolving selection of food and drink has long been a favourite pastime of many. But when lockdown made this luxury a distant memory, any new culinary experience had to be enjoyed at home.

Many of those lucky enough to avoid a financial hit from COVID found that, due to their forced abstinence from bars and eateries, they had a bit more disposable income. While stuck at home, they used their extra cash to sample an array of luxury food and craft drinks.

Brands also need to consider the sustainability of their supply chains

As makers of craft beverages, we at Cracker Drinks Co have been watching this trend carefully. Now that many more consumers have become accustomed to higher quality products, the more standard offerings are no longer likely to cut it for them.

With more demanding taste buds to cater for, drinks brands will need to make sure they have premium offerings at hand.

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