Research Week 2: Vitamin and Mineral Consumption Is On the Rise During the COVID-19 Crisis

Vitamin & Mineral Consumption Is on the Rise During the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 Primary Research Series Part 2

Glanbia Nutritionals' ongoing survey research is tracking the impact of COVID-19 on consumers' food and nutrition purchasing and consumption for the second week. Week One was marked by consumer stockpiling of groceries, with a focus on shelf-stable and bulk packaged items, and an increase in at-home cooking. In Week Two, there are changes in where consumers are shopping, along with a sharp increase in the consumption of certain nutrition products—including vitamin and mineral supplements and protein bars.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements are Top of Mind for Consumers

As Americans adapt to the changing situation (which now includes widespread shelter-in-place restrictions), many have changed the way they shop to minimize their time outside the home. While in Week One of the consumer survey respondents reported a marked increase in food and nutritional supplement purchases, Week Two results showed a purchasing decline for many items, indicating that consumers are now well-stocked.

For vitamin and mineral supplements, purchases were also slightly down (by two points compared to the prior week), but the percentage of respondents consuming them grew by a whopping 21 points (from 28 to 49 percent). In addition, 26 percent of vitamin and mineral supplement users reported that they increased their consumption of these supplements over the past week.

Vitamin and Mineral Consumption Is On the Rise During the COVID-19 Crisis

As consumers engage in a range of preventative measures to stay healthy, vitamin and mineral supplementation has emerged as a key strategy. The top health benefit for which consumers are taking vitamin and mineral supplements is general health at 64 percent, up from 59 percent the week before. The second most cited health benefit was immune system support at 37 percent.

Protein Bars Address Current Consumer Needs

Consumers are reaching for protein bars in Week Two results. Although purchases of protein bars were down one point from last week, 28 percent of protein bar users reported increased consumption over the last week. The percentage of respondents who consumed protein bars was also up from the prior week, from 21 to 23 percent.

Vitamin and Mineral Consumption Is On the Rise During the COVID-19 Crisis glanbia nutritionals

Protein bars meet the pressing consumer need for a healthy and convenient snack for those accustomed to eating out who are now staying home, for parents at home caring for their out-of-school kids, and for those on the front lines who are busier than ever, such as healthcare workers and delivery drivers. In fact, increased consumption over the past week was reported for a number of convenient functional products, including ready-to-drink (RTD) protein shakes, sports drinks, and energy drinks.

Vitamin and Mineral Consumption Is On the Rise During the COVID-19 Crisis glanbia nutritionals work from home

Where Consumers Are Buying Vitamin and Mineral Supplements and Protein Products

Glanbia Nutritionals also asked consumers where they were shopping for various food and nutrition products. Options included traditional supermarkets, supercenters, limited assortment supermarkets (e.g., Aldi), organic/natural grocery stores (e.g., Whole Foods), club stores, convenience stores, and online.

Traditional supermarkets were the top choice for fresh produce, fresh meat, canned goods, pasta/rice, dairy, bread, bottled water, granola/cereal/snack bars, and protein/energy bars. However, supercenters were the favored retail outlet for vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as a number of protein products more closely associated with sports nutrition (versus protein bars, which have wide mainstream appeal). 

Between weeks one and two of the survey, though, there was a shift away from supercenters for some of these products. In just a week, traditional supermarkets became the primary destination for purchasing protein powder and protein-enhanced snacks, such as protein chips and protein popcorn. In addition, traditional supermarkets now tie with supercenters as the main shopping destination for protein cookies/brownies.

Top Retail Outlets Used by Consumers for Select Products

Product Week 1 of Survey Week 2 of Survey
Vitamin & Mineral Supplements Supercenter (31%) Supercenter (36%)
RTD Protein Shakes Supercenter (56%) Supercenter (42%)
Protein Cookies/Brownies Supercenter (51%) Supercenter (45%)/Traditional Supermarket (45%)
Protein Powder Supercenter (43%) Traditional Supermarket (44%)
Protein-Enhanced Snacks* Supercenter (41%) Traditional Supermarket (41%)
Protein/Energy Bars Traditional Supermarket (34%) Traditional Supermarket (44%)
(*Includes protein chips, protein popcorn, etc.)

This shift hints at consumers’ growing efforts to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 by adjusting their shopping habits. For some, this simply means consolidating shopping trips to minimize their time inside stores. For others, it might mean choosing a less crowded store or a store closer to home.

While supercenters are the preferred choice for certain products, consumers are increasingly purchasing these products during their regular supermarket shopping rather than making a separate trip. However, supercenters remain the top shopping destination for vitamin and mineral supplements and RTD protein shakes for reasons that likely include price and selection.

What Happens Next?

Another shift in consumer purchasing behavior that’s on the radar is the transition to online food shopping. Between weeks one and two of the survey, Glanbia Nutritionals' researchers saw online grocery ordering with in-person pickup increase from 12.3 percent to 14.1 percent, while online ordering with home-delivery rose from 7 percent to 11 percent. 

Stay on top of this and other fast-changing consumer trends by checking the regular weekly updates of Glanbia Nutritional's survey results. You can also contact Glanbia Nutritionals today to learn about other key findings from the survey and what they mean for food and supplement manufacturers.

Read Part 1 - Consumer Trust is Changing as COVID-19 Spreads.

Read Part 3 - In-Person Grocery Runs Continue to Decline.

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