Beloit, WI—42% of consumers have increased purchases of functional foods during the pandemic, and 44% have purchased more dietary supplements, according to a survey from Kerry.

John Quilter, Kerry VP of Global Portfolio—ProActive Health, said: “Interest in health and wellness has never been higher and we wanted to give the industry new insights into changing purchasing habits. One of our key findings was the scale of the impact of the pandemic on demand—not just for immune health products, but for functional foods, beverages, and supplements overall. Consumers were adopting increasingly proactive, holistic attitudes to health, wellness and nutrition long before 2020 but the pandemic has massively accelerated this trend.”

Kerry, makers of Wellmune, surveyed 13,000 people across 16 countries, looking for insights into the impact of COVID-19 on purchasing behavior.

Respondents were presented with a list of health areas and asked which were reasons for buying healthy lifestyle products. 58% chose immune support, 46% chose bone and joint support, 43% chose digestive health, 40% looked for heart health support, and 39% sought improved energy.

In all 16 countries, the top benefit wanted was immune health. 39% of consumers had used an immune health product over the past six months, and an additional 30% would consider doing so in the future.

Related: Function + Flavor = Win-Win! Kerry Research Reveals Consumer Attitudes Towards Food Safety Kerry Research Pinpoints Emotions Consumers Associate With Botanicals

The survey also asked what food and beverage categories consumers would purchase immune health products in. 33% said they would be interested in purchasing fruit and vegetable juices if they contained immune support products. Other categories seen as a good fit included yogurt, dairy-based drinks, and hot beverages.

With Wellmune specifically, 70% of respondents said they would definitely or probably purchase a product containing Wellmune, and 50% said its inclusion would influence them to switch brands.

Quilter concluded: “Manufacturers should see the surge in demand for immune health products not as an opportunity, but as a reason for increased responsibility. Everyone in the immune health sector needs to earn the trust of consumers by communicating transparently about product benefits and using proven ingredients supported by high-quality research. The reason Wellmune connects so well with consumers is that its benefits are substantiated by science.”