More than 8 out of 10 (81%) of respondents in a recent survey said they are paying close attention to whether food is kept at safe temperatures throughout the supply chain during transportation and storage. This underscores a critical need for retailers, supermarkets, and suppliers to design and invest in technology, processes and cold chain infrastructure that help ensure freshness and safety of food to meet consumers’ expectations.

The survey, Market Research Report: Cold Chain Consumer Survey during COVID-19, released by Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions business shows that consumers have dramatically altered their shopping habits in response to COVID-19, putting pressure on retailers to adapt to changing consumption patterns.

According to the survey, consumers value food safety, hygienic shopping environment and quality refrigeration equipment more than lower prices compared to the time before the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While 72% of respondents plan to return to more traditional fresh food venues like supermarkets, hypermarkets, wet markets and grocery stores once COVID-19 restrictions are removed, they will continue to expect the quality and freshness of food to be guaranteed. However, many consumers, including a majority of Indian and Chinese respondents, said they will continue buying fresh food from online platforms.

Further, fewer people will be dining out as frequently as before, even when restrictions have been eased. On average, 47% of respondents said they will choose to cook and eat at home even when the cities where they live reopen with 61% of Australians more likely to eat at home than at restaurants.

As a result, more consumers will continue to buy fresh products from retailers. The change creates new opportunities for retail stores, supermarkets and online stores that plan to gain a better understanding of consumer preferences and address their concerns on food safety and quality through enhanced refrigeration technologies.