woman looking at phone and milk in store

Sustainability and the Pandemic

Through the COVID pandemic, sustainability in foods and supplements continues to matter to consumers. See what’s on consumers’ minds and explore the sustainability claims that are resonating the most.

Sustainability Is Still Important

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, staying healthy has been a priority for consumers around the globe. Many consumers have been turning to foods, including functional food and beverage products, and dietary supplements for immunity support. And while practical concerns like product cost, shelf stability, and bulk packaging options have all become key considerations during pandemic shopping, they’ve been balanced by consumers’ continued interest in healthy and sustainable products. 

Some products, such as plant-based or natural products, can address both health and sustainability concerns at once. Plant-based lifestyles are associated with higher intakes of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients for overall health and immunity support, as well as environmental sustainability benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and resource use. Natural products may be viewed as safer—for both consumers and the environment—than products made with artificial ingredients.

Sustainability Claims Resonating with Today’s Consumers

The balanced approach that many consumers are taking means that food and supplement companies can rest assured that their efforts to source responsibly still matter. Here’s a look at some claims that are still important to consumers during the pandemic:

1. Vegan

Recent surveys indicate that vegan appeal is on the rise, with 19% of U.S. consumers surveyed at the end of 2020 reporting an interest in the vegan diet heading into 20211 and 28% planning to include more plant-based foods in their diets as a result of COVID.2 In addition, 12% of supplement consumers say vegan claims are important to them when purchasing nutritional supplements.3 Younger consumers may be driving this interest: for example, while 16% of UK supplement users are interested in seeing more vegan vitamins, minerals, or dietary supplements, the number jumps to 24% for those aged 16-24.4

2. Natural/Green

The number of natural and green claims in new supplement launches showed steady growth from 2015 to 2019,5 and recent data shows clean label ingredients continue to be relevant during the pandemic. 100% natural/free from artificial ingredients is considered an important supplement claim by 76% of nutritional supplement users, ahead of non-GMO, low/free from sugar, and gluten-free.6 Clean label ingredients are being featured in immunity support products and multivitamin formulations, as well as natural energy and sleep support supplements.

supplements and blueberries

3. Whole Food/Botanicals

During COVID-19, many consumers have been boosting their whole foods intakes with the deliberate intent of supporting their immunity, including 63% who are consuming citrus fruits/juices, 49% green tea, 48% whole grains, 45% nuts/seeds, and 45% leafy greens.7 Whole foods even appeal in supplements, with 53% of U.S. adults agreeing that whole-food-based supplements absorb better than synthetic-based.8 Botanicals have also been popular as perceived immunity boosters, with functional ingredients like echinacea, ginseng, and ginger on the rise in supplements and functional beverage products.

immuity webinar

4. Eco-Friendly Packaging

Eco-friendly packaging was among the fastest-growing supplement claims pre-COVID. For example, between May 2019 and April 2020, 17% of new supplement launches in Europe made this claim, up from 7% four years prior.9 In a recent survey, 32% of consumers in Germany, 38% in the U.S., 50% in Mexico, and 60% in China report they would like to hear more information from brands about sustainable packaging initiatives—indicating sustainable packaging is still in demand.10

Collaborate for a Healthy and Sustainable Future

One of the lessons the food and supplement industries are learning from COVID-19 is that sustainability has staying power. As consumer interests in conscious consumerism and healthy lifestyles continue to shape the industries, trust that Glanbia Nutritionals has the ingredients to meet these needs. Collaborate with us on your next plant-based and clean label food, beverage or supplement product formulation to make a product your consumers will love.  


1. Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Study, December 2020. 
2. FMCG Gurus, COVID-19 Survey - February 2021.
3. FMCG Gurus, Exploring the Impact of Nutritional Supplements - Global, September 2020.
4. Mintel, Vitamins and Supplements: Inc Impact of COVID-19 - UK, September 2020.
5. Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary Study, December 2020. 
6. FMCG Gurus, Exploring the Impact of Nutritional Supplements - Global, September 2020.
7. NBJ, Immune Health Report, 2020
8-9. Mintel, Support Immune Health in New Ways, June 2020.
10. FMCG Gurus, COVID-19 Survey - February 2021.

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