INSTEAD of comfort and party food, Filipino mothers chose to buy care and healthy alternative products for themselves or their loved ones on Mother’s Day this year, with the high inflation likely to have influenced the shift.

This is what data analytics platform Packworks, collaborating with socio-cultural research firm Fourth Wall, found out when it compared how Filipinos observed the occasion in 2021 and 2023 with their purchases in over 200,000 sari-sari stores in the Philippines.

In a statement, Packworks said it identified the shift in consumption patterns using its business intelligence tool Sari IQ, which gives retailers data analytics on consumer behavior and spending habits customizable for sari-sari store categories.

“Packworks’ data shows that in 2021, comfort food and beverages like ice cream saw the highest one-day rise in demand at 212 percent. Other items like powder soup mix and pasta also enjoyed people’s mood for festivity, seeing a 113 percent and 82 percent increase, respectively. Alcoholic drink whisky was another standout choice two years ago, recording a 77 percent demand growth, while milk alternatives like soy milk and flavored milk drinks looked to be the preference for other members of the family at 63 percent,” it said.

However, on Mother’s Day last May 14, the in-demand items in sari-sari stores were care and healthy alternative products, with the demand for cultured drinks, for example, increasing 250 percent from the previous day. Other top sellers were hygiene products like baby body wash and astringent, with demand growth of 210 percent and 177 percent, respectively, as well as home protection product pesticides with demand growth of 97 percent.

“The Sari IQ data highlights a significant shift in consumer preferences during Mother’s Day, moving from indulgent comfort food to a focus on care products. The study gives us a picture from the grassroots level that there is a shift that signifies a remarkable transition towards prioritizing the well-being and thoughtful choices for oneself and loved ones during Mother’s Day,” Packworks advanced analytics and insights manager Arch Tesorero said.

Inflation in the Philippines has been hitting 14-year highs since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 disrupted global supply chains, causing food and energy prices to soar after Western countries imposed sanctions on energy giant Russia to show its disapproval of its aggression.

Inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the food inflation rate from April to May 2021 was only around 3.6 percent. But this doubled to eight percent in April this year, Packworks said.

“The enormity of the inflationary difference could have adversely affected the demand for comfort food, even on occasions like Mother’s Day, as it discouraged people from purchasing them,” Fourth Wall’s research director John Brylle Bae said.

Aside from the high prices, Bae said the selfless nature of mothers could have also induced them to prioritize the needs of those under their care before their own, under challenging circumstances like high inflation.

Packworks excluded 2022 data from the analysis “due to potential consumption outliers owing to the liquor ban implemented on the eve of the May 9 general elections, which coincided with Mother’s Day.” (CTL, PR)