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Food and sports market insights: a different story after COVID-19

22nd April 2021

Author: Sima Hamadeh, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Public Health Nutrition & Program Coordinator of Nutrition and Dietetics Sciences at Haigazian University in Lebanon (HU).

My dad taught me that life is a reality to be experienced and that every great purpose will start with an even better story…In my early years at school, the principle told my mom this girl will going to have a story, a big story…In University, my supervisor kept tell me that I always go too far and I’m obsessed with giving the audience something they don’t see coming. In the end, I believe we ain’t nothing but a living story. Therefore, we should be a voice not an echo!

COVID-19 world pandemic imposed measures of self-isolation, social distancing, global lockdown and repatriation, that created severe repercussions on demographic characteristics and markets, need a situation that requires national efforts to closely monitor and study the demand and supply dynamics specifically of health-related commodities such as food and sports products and/or services to boost immunity and mood. Such measurements applied global economic losses, major shifts in dietary and lifestyles patterns, and new sets of challenges for the individuals, communities and countries to maintain healthy lifestyles. However, all efforts done in response to these shifts since the outbreak neglected the need to consider the rapid alterations in stages of lifestyles, and where does the public health system fit into this?

In a move away from traditional approaches, understanding the consumer behaviour and the interactions between key stakeholders and the causal food and sports exchange dynamics amid the COVID-19 outbreak is required to identify deep public health nutrition strategic leverage points. Therefore, the use of robust digital alternatives and valuable technologies (Artificial Intelligence "AI" and Augmented Reality "AR" apps) is primary in food and sports industries lines including research and development, production and marketing activities – especially those undertaken in developing new services or in revolutionising the Fast Moving Consumer Goods innovation such as packaged food, sports products, nutritional products and supplements, and others.

Therefore, my intention as a public health nutritionist professor was to illustrate a holistic picture of food and sports trends and projections after COVID-19, along with the drivers largely responsible for these observed trends. In results, my research approach generated real revolutionised concepts in people' lifestyle patterns and highlighted many challenges to the rapid changing face of food and sports market insights during and beyond COVID-19 such as the structure of the existing food systems (e.g. neoliberal trade to local market) and the social life of sports (e.g. group classes of sports to individual e-coaching).

And here began a fascinating new story to tell!! This time, equipped with an original researcher’s mind, I took a different path to present new realities and priority challenges to be addressed for improving nutrition, food consumption and active lifestyles patterns after COVID-19. My research findings had opened my mind to illustrate the new intertwined ideas in an innovative model so-called "The New Encyclopedia of Nutrition after COVID-19" involving integrated nutrition issues (digitalised food chain; e-commerce, robot delivery services, online sports competitions, AI, AR apps, employee sharing scheme, etc.) to approach the reality of a Second Nutrition Transition during and after COVID-19.

Importantly, the model showcases the proliferation of new cultural tendencies in today’s COVID-19 digitally enriched markets, recognises innovative approaches to existing societies lifestyle practices; commends interdisciplinary collaboration and bridges the gap between research and practice.

Nutrition encyclopedia after COVID-19

Circling back to the global impact of my story that was shortlisted as a finalist for the Emerald Real World Impact prize 2020, I once again put huge efforts to connect meaningfully with non-academic partners globally; where there is a great opportunity for networking with key stakeholders from different countries and sectors (ministries, industries, products developers, solution providers, marketing professionals, management bodies, decision-makers, societies...) to drive the new reality of nutrition matters during COVID-19 into practice and to anticipate generation of factual lifestyle changes in post-COVID world. For instance, my research was published in the ANAFS (1) after being considered as a “LIVE, FASCINATING and ONE OF THE BEST selected topic” by the journal's Editor-in-Chief and the scientific reviewers. The innovative work was also applauded and considered by the founder and the CEO of the MENA Food Safety Associates in Lebanon for a joint collaboration regarding food industries future concerns and food safety matters. In Qatar, the new encyclopedia matter was much admired by the Ministry of Municipalities and Environment. Why? Because socialising during and after COVID-19 pandemic will urge new built environment and architectural styles not only in restaurants and food point of sales but also in gyms, worksites, schools and other settings. Besides, it was presented and discussed with professionals, scientists, adults and adolescents from different backgrounds, disciplines and nationalities in several webinar conferences (Sydney, Dubai), over zoom meetings to assess the public perceptions of the work done and to build on the shared insights. The story was also highlighted as a monthly theme on different Social Media platforms (Instagram, Facebook) and in the “Herald” university Newsletter. And since it is prudent to not let public health nutrition related mis- and dis-information around COVID-19 overshadow the nutrition science, I shared my story on a popular broadcasted YouTube Channel (2) to fight such “infodemic”. 

I am extremely delighted to have such impressive feedbacks on my “New Story of Nutrition” and its worldwide impact for the specific modernised food and sports terms, the methods used to characterise and analyse it, and the philosophy of e-world that is at its core. Indeed, connecting with non-academic partners and public speakers/trustworthy influencers will optimally mobilise the “New Encyclopedia of Nutrition” into multilevel action once its practically employed. By this, experts, decision- and policy- makers in communication, nutrition, health and technology are able to uplift local voices to the globe level, and to address global challenges at the community level.

Finally, my story is everyone living story with the COVID-19. But, let’s wait to see what we may learn and discover next especially with the new generation of COVID-19 baby-boomers, so-called the “Coronials”!!

  1. Hamadeh S (2020) The New Encyclopedia of Nutrition: A Reality after COVID-19. Adv in Nutri and Food Sci: ANAFS-198.