Filipinos' interest in sweets surged during pandemic

Anna Gabrielle Cerezo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2021 06:38 PM

Lindor chocolate eggs of Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli are displayed during the annual news conference in Kilchberg, Switzerland in this file photo. Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters

MANILA -- During these difficult times, Filipino consumers craved a sweet escape— literally. 

Since the start of the pandemic, e-commerce aggregator iPrice reported that the country’s interest in chocolates and other confections has been on a consistent upward trend.

The study conducted by the Malaysia-based firm indicated the monthly average of Google searches for the sweet treats in 2020 grew by 91 percent when compared to the same period in 2019.

“The number of searches has been on a constant increase over the months. In April 2020, just when everyone was transitioning into the new normal, search interest for chocolates and sweets started to increase by 20 percent,” iPrice noted.

From March, the onset of the stringent lockdown, until the end of the year, the average monthly interest for chocolates consistently surpassed the figures of February and October 2019, the peak months for the indulgent goods.

“In a normal year, February and October would garner the most Google searches due to Valentine’s Day and Halloween. However, this year, Filipinos have been searching more and more for these delicacies as the year goes by,” the group said.

It continued: “if you compare September 2020, a random month, with February 2020, September has 38 percent more Google searches.”

Moreover, despite the new normal prohibiting most social events like Halloween parties and trick or treating, October 2020’s monthly average was 122 percent greater than the year before.

Data gathered by the Malaysia-based firm and validated by the International Diabetes Foundation and Diabetes Atlas also revealed nearly 18.8 percent of the country’s Google population are looking for sweets, the highest number in Southeast Asia after Malaysia (21.8%) and Singapore (19.3%).

The e-commerce aggregator added Filipinos’ sweet tooth aches for imported Western brands over local ones. According to iPrice, the top three Western chocolates have 254 percent more searches than the top three local varieties.

While numerous retailers in the food and beverage industry collapsed under the weight of the pandemic, figures reported by iPrice suggests confections landed a sweet spot. The spike may be associated with Filipinos' shift to e-commerce, the rising number of home bakers, and possibly due to the majority merely seeking comfort and escapism through indulgence.

Several studies suggested moderately snacking on dark chocolates may help reduce the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines.

Eating sugar is also known to cause “the feel-good chemical” or the “happy hormone” dopamine to surge. 

The American Heart Association, however, warned the public not to consume more than 150 calories (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for men and 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) for women. Too much of the good stuff may lead to weight gain, acne, accelerated aging, increased cancer risk, fatty liver, diabetes, kidney damage, heart diseases, tooth decay, depression, cognitive decline, and others.

For full report, click here.

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