woman doing home workout

One Year In: Our Insights on US Consumers A Year after COVID

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Glanbia Nutritionals' consumer survey has been tracking consumers’ perceptions and behaviors around food, supplements, exercise, and more. Learn about shifts in protein and supplement purchases, grocery shopping habits, and home fitness trends one year into the pandemic and counting.

Glanbia’s Weekly COVID Consumer Tracker

In March of 2020, Glanbia Nutritionals initiated a monthly consumer survey to explore the impact of COVID-19 on consumers. This survey has been tracking consumer attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions on a variety of topics, including:

  • Food and supplement purchases
  • Grocery shopping
  • Home food preparation
  • Diets
  • Exercise behaviors

This ongoing survey has yielded valuable insights into trends and shifts throughout the length of the pandemic that directly affect the food and supplement industries. Here’s a look at where things stand today, one year after the pandemic began.

Health and Fitness at Home

Some of the many lifestyle disruptions experienced due to COVID have included more time spent at home, along with reduced access to gyms and organized sports activities. In looking at what steps consumers are taking toward health and fitness goals going into 2021, our survey found the majority (63%) of consumers were working on their body composition, with calorie control and cardio as the primary strategies.1


Regarding nutrition trends, the most common diets consumers were interested in the new year were low-carb (11%), intermittent fasting (9%), and lactose-free/low lactose (9%).3 

Now that we are more than one year into the pandemic, we wanted to see how consumer behaviors have changed compared to pre-COVID routines. There has been very little change in the type of exercise performed (e.g., high-intensity aerobic, low-intensity aerobic, and weight training), though the number of consumers who work out more frequently has increased.4

Purchase and Consumption of Protein and Supplements

In exploring consumers’ use of protein products (which have been especially popular during the pandemic), our findings reveal the primary eating occasions for protein products are breakfast and snacking. Whey is the preferred protein for protein bars and powders, while milk protein is preferred for RTD protein shakes (closely followed by whey protein). Consumers report reaching for protein bars and RTD protein shakes because they’re healthy, convenient, and easy to grab and go.

Compared to pre-COVID days, the percentage of consumers purchasing RTD protein shakes has been steady (at 12%), while those purchasing protein powders have increased by three points (to 15%). Though the nutrition bar market has seen fluctuations throughout the pandemic, protein/energy bar purchasing is currently back to pre-pandemic levels (at 20%).

woman holding a bar and water bottle

For supplements, our recent survey shows consumers’ interest in immune system support is below pandemic onset levels, with 40% of consumers reporting immunity support as a reason they’re taking vitamins, minerals, or supplements (VMS). This stat peaked at pandemic onset at 46% and at the end of 2020 with 47% of consumers taking VMS for immune health support. Multivitamins remains at the top as the most common immune support supplement consumers are taking (at 70%), overtaking both vitamin C (at 65%) and vitamin D (at 63%). 

Shopping Habits: How and Where

Throughout the pandemic, our survey has followed consumer shopping habits, which have been characterized by factors like reduced shopping frequency, preference for shelf-stable and bulk-packaged items, and cost-consciousness. In our most recent survey, we find that consumers are relying on supercenters more for certain types of products, such as snacks and protein bars. For protein powder purchases, however, there has been a shift toward traditional supermarkets.

woman at laptop

While in-person grocery shopping is still the most common (at 82%), online ordering is going strong—both home-delivered, as well as click-and-collect. Delivery is more common than pre-pandemic times with 13% of consumers indicating they purchased their groceries online and then had them delivered. Click-and-collect programs have also benefited with 14% of consumers indicated they had done their shopping like this in the past week.5

When Will Things Be "Normal" Again?

Now a year in, with mass vaccinations underway, everyone is wondering if things will soon return to normal. The COVID pandemic has impacted how people work, shop, travel, socialize, and so much more. Our latest survey shows that consumers are, in fact, gaining optimism regarding normal activities resuming soon, with 23% saying “not before summer of 2021” and 22% saying “not before the end of 2021.” About one in five consumers don’t believe we will see normality until 2022.6

Until things do return to normal, food and supplement manufacturers that stay on top of health and nutrition trends will be in the best position to meet consumers’ changing needs. Glanbia Nutritionals’ ongoing consumer research offers insights into shifts in the functional beverage and nutrition bar market, as well as the supplement market. Sign up for our Mega Trends webinar to learn how COVID-19 has impacted the most important trends of the day.  


How has COVID-19 Impacted the Food and Beverage MegaTrends

Live Webinar from Glanbia Nutritionals

  • Date: May 13, 2021
  • Time: 1 PM Central Time
  • Length: 45 minutes, including 10 minutes for Q&A

You have questions; how will covid-19 continue to impact your industries, your consumers, and your product categories?


1-3. Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary COVID-19 Consumer Tracker - Week 41 Fielded December 28, 2020.
4-6. Glanbia Nutritionals Proprietary COVID-19 Consumer Tracker - Week 54 Fielded March 29, 2021.

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