As coronavirus remains a top stressor for 36 percent of Americans, COVID-concerned consumers are buying turmeric tea, plant-based meats, and vitamin D supplements to boost immunity and stay healthy, a new survey revealed. Shoppers are reaching for "real" food ingredients and are seeking plant-based meat alternatives to help them maintain optimal health, in response to news reports that new variants of the virus are spreading rapidly.

A report from research firm, Brightfield Group (which focuses on emerging markets) found COVID concerned consumers are more conscious and selective about what they purchase now, reaching for healthier, "real" food ingredients. Respondents reported that they are buying specific products that they believe will boost their immunity, such as turmeric tea, B-12, and vitamin D to stay healthy throughout the pandemic.

Over half of those surveyed prefer “real food" ingredients and another 40 percent prefer no preservatives that are often found in cookies and chips. Consumers are keeping an eye out for gut-healthy ingredients on the label when food shopping. The survey also found consumers are drawn to healthy proteins, such as plant-based meat because they are healthier, more affordable, and have become widely accessible. Other products that were popular amongst respondents include cauliflower crust, low-sugar products, and those that help to lower or manage cholesterol.

Older shoppers are stressed by COVID-19, younger ones are worried about money

The survey found respondents who were most stressed by coronavirus were consumers over 40 and those who suffer from digestive issues, chronic pain, or diabetes. These same consumers are shopping for products that support heart health, digestive health, and immunity.

In contrast, Millennials reported they were less stressed by the virus and more concerned about money when they shop, which is likely intensified due to the economic stress they are feeling. According to prior surveys, 65 percent of Gen-Z say they want to follow a more "plant-forward" diet, while 54 percent of Millenials are eating more plant-based foods and call themselves flexitarian.

Regardless of the generational divide, all consumers are trying to reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing by maintaining a healthy diet, going for frequent walks, and spending time in nature, the research found. They are also prioritizing engaging in social media to connect with friends and getting enough sleep.