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Brief Published: 2 Jun 2020

Immunity Focus: Fermented Food Sales Surge

US sales of fermented foods have skyrocketed during lockdown

US sales of fermented foods are skyrocketing during the pandemic, with kimchi seeing a 952% year-on-year spike, and sauerkraut jumping 960% in the week ending March 29 (Bloomreach, 2020). As studies suggest fermented foods boost immunity, the sales swell reflects growing interest in functional ingredients, especially those with immunity benefits.

As we highlight in Veganism’s Post-Pandemic Future, shoppers have become better educated on the link between diet and health, and are adjusting their eating habits accordingly. While Covid-19 fears have pushed some towards mass-market fare (see Snacking Trends 2020), the increase in fermented food sales underlines the continued commercial relevance of health-supporting products – suggesting that nostalgia-fuelled snacking hasn’t outstripped demand for nutritious purchases. 

As we discuss in Japan’s New Food Culture, Japanese consumers are opting for subscription boxes of artisanal miso, soy sauce and natto, and even embracing yoghurt, which saw an 11% uptick between January and February (Nippon.com, 2020) – when Covid-19 fears first surfaced in the country. 

Immunity-related products are also a bright spot in the supplements market. We mention in The Future of Supplements that immunity-targeting multivitamins are poised for 25% US sales growth this year (Nutrition Business Journal, 2020), while Covid-19 + Food notes that web searches for immune-boosting foods rose 66% between mid-February and March (Tastewise, 2020). This interest in ‘anti-illness’ supplements has been brewing for a while – we first spotted it back in 2018 at Natural Products Expo East.

For more on the rise of fermented immunity-boosting foods, see Going with the Gut and  Future Functional Foods & How to Market Them, publishing in July. For more on the food-health link, see Food on Prescription, part of our Spotlight Trend The Healthcare Opportunity.