A WOMAN shops for vegetables at a grocery store in Cubao. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

SOME of the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on food and beverage sales are an increase in sales in basic products, lower sales in impulse products, and an expansion of e-commerce sales, according to speakers at a recent lecture on the F&B industry.

The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines (CCI-France) laid out government updates and spending patterns of Filipino shoppers in a talk called “Behind the Cuisines: The Changing Phases of the Food and Beverage Industry,” held on Facebook Live on Oct. 22. Celebrity chef Erwan Heussaff had a cooking demonstration the next day.

“We’re now at almost two years into the pandemic, and the disruption in the Philippines remains quite significant,” said Marie-Anne Lezoraine, Managing Director of Kantar Worldpanel Division during the talk. “At the moment, we remain at a lower level of expenditure. We’re very hopeful that recovery is in progress.”

In a series of charts, Ms. Lezoraine explained why spending remains low for Filipino households. “The factors really are, of course, the impact of the current health situation and the necessary lockdowns that have happened.” These have disrupted the shopping behavior of Filipinos, and “to a certain extent, the purchasing power of some parts of the population.”

According to her, prior to the pandemic, Filipinos were among the most frequent shoppers in the world, a trait that applies to shopping for food and beverage (F&B) as well. E-commerce has inflated in the country, as noted by Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier in the talk. “In 2020, the use of e-commerce in F&B increased by 210% because of the pandemic.”

“There are still huge amounts of opportunity for e-commerce growth. This channel can probably play in the future a greater role in offsetting some of the brick-and-mortar stores’ losses,” said Ms. Lezoraine.

She also noted the increase of spending in some goods, particularly in essentials such as flour, margarine, butter, instant noodles, canned fish, cooking oil, and seasonings. However, “It has been a little bit tougher for these categories which are more impulse categories,” she noted, resulting in lower sales in chocolate and ice cream, for example. “Any progress in the front of mobility will surely help those categories recover.”

She noted some trends that will still be relevant in 2022: the prioritization of food, an economic recovery driven by middle- to lower socio-economic classes, the value of proximity in shopping, and the importance of sustainability (particularly with regards decreasing plastic waste).

Still, she said: “We’ve really seen some brands performing quite well, and as a result, I’m very confident to say that across all categories, there are really pockets of growth and successes that can be found.” —  JLG