Op-ed: How important is customer convenience in a post-pandemic society?
Chris Maze is the CEO of Pescanova USA.
The coronavirus is arguably the most disruptive event in recent history, upending people’s lives and sending shockwaves around the globe. It has challenged many aspects of our daily routines, including where and how we work, take care of our health … and consume food.
Some consumers found themselves with full households, as children transitioned to remote learning and college students and family members found a place back home for the duration of the pandemic. Prepared or not, people suddenly had a lot of mouths to feed, with no relief from restaurants or school lunches.
While some families already had established cooking habits, this represented a huge change for many others – 40 percent of Americans say they cooked more during the pandemic, bringing the total of consumers who cook at home to 66 percent. These families needed nutritious, easy-to-make solutions. In other words, they needed food that offered one key element: Convenience.
I firmly believe no one should have to choose between what’s healthy and what’s convenient. We in the food industry must prioritize providing customers with quick and easy options that support their healthy habits in the long term, no matter what the future brings.
Why customer convenience matters
The need for convenience is not new, but the stresses of the pandemic have made it more important than ever. Why? Because when the world loses all sense of normality, people place increased value on simplicity and ease, as they help reduce the amount of stress in an already difficult situation. In terms of food, this translated into more interest in healthy and grab-and-go purchases. For example, frozen seafood consumption rose over 25 percent during the pandemic.
As we transition out of lockdown and into the “new normal,” the demand for convenience seems to be here to stay. Many of us are now returning to work or beginning to resume our pre-pandemic activities, albeit with a heightened sense of caution in our behaviors; in March just under half of American adults, both vaccinated and not, admitted to feeling uneasy about in-person social interactions. Coupled with this ongoing stress, 53 percent of Americans were still exclusively or partially working from home as of May, a more than 20-point increase over previous years. This work-from-home environment means eating from home (over one-third of Americans cook at home daily), which translates into a need for quick, in-the-moment meals that can fit into busy schedules.
It is impossible to say whether the world will face another life-altering pandemic like last year’s. While many of our consumers have discovered a love of cooking in the last year, we know not everyone was born with the passion for it. Even so, the pressure to provide healthy, nutritious meals to fuel themselves and their families remains. As a seafood industry leader, I want consumers to know that they can rely on us to provide some relief through fresh, nutritious foods they can prepare for their families, easily and conveniently.
Photo courtesy of Pescanova USA