The same report finds that three in ten consumers say they are consuming more functional foods and beverages due to COVID-19.

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Since mid-March, millions of Americans have been doing what once upon a time would have been unthinkable: adhering to government-mandated stay-at-home orders, which have limited social interactions and travel, in a nationwide effort to control the novel coronavirus. In this nationwide response to the COVID-19 health crisis, lives and lifestyles have been dramatically altered as consumers confront the challenges of the moment — and an uncertain future.

Before the pandemic took hold, we had observed a rising cultural interest in boosting immunity. Now, to boost immunity and overall health within the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are increasingly seeking out functional products that they believe might boost immunity and the body’s defenses in the face of stressors to health.

To assess the impacts of COVID-19, The Hartman Group fielded new research that coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic for its Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020 report. Realizing that the resulting anxiety along with stay-at-home orders would have profound effects on the results, a special chapter was devoted to the disruptive impacts on household routines and the pandemic’s role as a catalyst for engagement with health and wellness, most notably in terms of the use of functional foods and beverages, and supplements.

Our Health + Wellness 2019: From Moderation to Mindfulness report highlighted rising anxiety as a primary health issue facing consumers. Confronted with the pandemic fear of contagion and faced with increased stress of daily life, it is not surprising that the issue of anxiety continues to be prominent.

COVID-19: Systems Under Stress

Our study of the impacts of COVID-19 on consumers’ lives occurred in April 2020, close to the peak in confirmed infections and economic shutdowns in the U.S. At this point, 89% of those aware of the pandemic cited disruption to their household.

Already evident is the crisis’s role as a catalyst for engagement with Health + Wellness, although it is distinct from other health challenges consumers have navigated. “When confronted with health challenges, consumers often reach out to others in their social networks who might share guidance based on knowledge and past experience,” said Hartman Group CEO, Laurie Demeritt. “However, for most Americans, dealing with a pandemic is unprecedented, and social networks are acting as sources of empathy and communication rather than firsthand knowledge and expertise.”

Consumers are turning to cues from trusted healthcare providers and public health experts and — in an environment of incomplete information — adopting what they believe to be generally good practices to protect their physical and mental well-being.

The full extent of the pandemic’s long-term impacts is still unknown. Shifts in consumer awareness and adaptation in response to its challenges have already drawn attention to ideas of empowerment, resilience, connection, and systemic change — even as Americans carry on amid a great deal of uncertainty.

Learn more about the Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020 report through our podcast, “What Can You Expect From Hartman’s Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements 2020 Report?” Listen to podcast

THG - Functional Food & Beverage and SupplementsGet report! Download overview and order form: HARTMAN FUNCTIONAL FOOD REPORT