The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) recently published figures showing how the UK has increased its consumption of fruit and veg by over 30% during the pandemic, alongside a number of other European countries showing similar statistics.
The reason for the uptick can, in part, be explained by the lockdown-induced resurgence of home cooking. People have had more time on their hands for a myriad of reasons, some good, some bad. Some people now work from home, potentially freeing up hours of commuting time each day that could instead be spent cooking. Others were placed on furlough, giving them an abundance of time to indulge in new hobbies. Many others were unfortunately made redundant – the gaining of free time and loss of income encouraging them to explore cheaper alternatives to feeding themselves such as home cooking.
The report also found an uptick of around 30% in convenience foods, alcohol, and snacks. This could be seen as contradictory to the previous finding of increased vegetable intake, but Professor Klaus Grunert of Aarhus University explained it in the following way:
‘Convenience foods need not be meal replacement. They can help people achieve enjoyment in the kitchen… it is up to the industry to develop products suitable for this’.
It might be the case that we are simply eating. When most of life’s other vices are forbidden, at least the food shop is there to provide some comfort, be it in the form of crisps, or healthier leafy-green-based homecooked meals.
Another interesting finding in the report comes in the shift towards more local shopping. Of the 5,000 participants, over a third said they had started shopping for produce locally, with 87% of these saying they were likely to continue after the pandemic.
This shift in food consumer behaviour is one that food producers would be wise to take advantage of. Affordable home-cooking packages like HelloFresh saw a huge leap in sales over the course of their key markets’ national lockdowns as more people looked for a mix of convenience and do-it-yourself cooking. Perhaps the pandemic will present more opportunities for growth for those willing to provide products that fit the new consumer trends of a post-Covid world.
There is a general trend towards more home cooking and more enjoyment in the kitchen and during meals