The scars left by Covid-19 on people’s health around the globe are numerous and will take time to heal. One of these was highlighted by a recent global survey, carried out across 30 countries, which found that 31% of the global population gained significant weight during the pandemic1. This finding underscores a crucial aspect of the detrimental impact of lockdowns on human health.
Admittedly, weight gain was not homogeneous across countries. In fact, the share of people having gained weight varied considerably. More than half of people gained weight in Chile and Brazil, while they were only 30% to 40% in Peru, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, USA, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. Meanwhile, in China and Hong Kong, less than 1 in 10 said that they had gained weight.
According to this study, on average those people who gained weight during the pandemic put on an additional 6.1 kg. The largest weight gain was seen in Saudi Arabia, with an average of 8 kg for the 35% of the population who gained weight, and Mexico, with an average of 8.5 kg for the 34% who gained weight.
According to the most recent official figures by the World Health Organization, 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and over around the world were overweight in 2016, with 650 million suffering from outright obesity2. From this perspective, the increase in consumer focus on health and well-being, in particular when it comes to nutrition, is likely to continue.
In recent years, many consumers have been shifting their preferences towards healthier and more sustainable diets. They have been cutting down on sugar and on fat, and shifting towards fresher food ,away from widespread processed and packaged goods. Also, many consumers have been eating less meat out of environmental concerns and turning towards plant-based alternatives.
Given the significant health concerns underpinning them, these shifts in food consumption are likely to shape demand, not for the next four or five years, but for the coming decades. For investors, this means long-term investment opportunities in the companies that will help the transition towards healthier and more sustainable food production and consumption.
In this context, investing in the future of food has become a key focus theme of our Global Consumer Trends equity strategy. While many large incumbent players of the consumer-packaged goods market may be facing stronger headwinds, those with the right strategy to become more sustainable and sell healthier food could in fact benefit from shifting consumer preferences.
Meanwhile, we see investment opportunities in segments, such as plant-based food and beverages, meal kits, and food ingredients. While the number of listed companies remains limited for now, a growing number of players are now emerging from the venture-capital ecosystem and may soon become listed companies.
1 Bailey, P., Purcell, S., Calvar, J. and Baverstock, A., 20 January 2021, “The implications of COVID-19 on our diet & health”, Ipsos Mori.
2 See: WHO, 1 April 2020, “Obesity and overweight” Fact sheets.
The Robeco Capital Growth Funds have not been registered under the United States Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, nor or the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended. None of the shares may be offered or sold, directly or indirectly in the United States or to any U.S. Person (within the meaning of Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”)). Furthermore, Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. (Robeco) does not provide investment advisory services, or hold itself out as providing investment advisory services, in the United States or to any U.S. Person (within the meaning of Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act).
This website is intended for use only by non-U.S. Persons outside of the United States (within the meaning of Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act who are professional investors, or professional fiduciaries representing such non-U.S. Person investors. By clicking “I Agree” on our website disclaimer and accessing the information on this website, including any subdomain thereof, you are certifying and agreeing to the following: (i) you have read, understood and agree to this disclaimer, (ii) you have informed yourself of any applicable legal restrictions and represent that by accessing the information contained on this website, you are not in violation of, and will not be causing Robeco or any of its affiliated entities or issuers to violate, any applicable laws and, as a result, you are legally authorized to access such information on behalf of yourself and any underlying investment advisory client, (iii) you understand and acknowledge that certain information presented herein relates to securities that have not been registered under the Securities Act, and may be offered or sold only outside the United States and only to, or for the account or benefit of, non-U.S. Persons (within the meaning of Regulation S under the Securities Act), (iv) you are, or are a discretionary investment adviser representing, a non-U.S. Person (within the meaning of Regulation S under the Securities Act) located outside of the United States and (v) you are, or are a discretionary investment adviser representing, a professional non-retail investor. Access to this website has been limited so that it shall not constitute directed selling efforts (as defined in Regulation S under the Securities Act) in the United States and so that it shall not be deemed to constitute Robeco holding itself out generally to the public in the U.S. as an investment adviser. Nothing contained herein constitutes an offer to sell securities or solicitation of an offer to purchase any securities in any jurisdiction. We reserve the right to deny access to any visitor, including, but not limited to, those visitors with IP addresses residing in the United States.
This website has been carefully prepared by Robeco. The information contained in this publication is based upon sources of information believed to be reliable. Robeco is not answerable for the accuracy or completeness of the facts, opinions, expectations and results referred to therein. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this website, we do not accept any responsibility for damage of any kind resulting from incorrect or incomplete information. This website is subject to change without notice. The value of the investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. If the currency in which the past performance is displayed differs from the currency of the country in which you reside, then you should be aware that due to exchange rate fluctuations the performance shown may increase or decrease if converted into your local currency. For investment professional use only. Not for use by the general public.