Has COVID-19 Changed Consumer Food And Drink Trends For Good?


94% of consumers say COVID-19 has changed the way they shop – from visiting supermarkets less to supporting local businesses. And it’s not just the way in which and the frequency of our food shops that is different. Everything from what we’re eating to how we’re cooking has seen a shift… 

However, as lockdown measures ease further, is this ‘new normal’ here to stay? Or will we see traditional food and drink preferences return?

Shopping and cooking habits

From banana bread to sourdough, more than a third have been cooking from scratch during lockdown. Premier Food, the company behind Bisto and Mr Kipling, revealed that profits were ahead of expectations thanks to high demand for flour, cake mixes, gravy, pasta and curry sauces. Shares in the company also surged. Research from Leatherhead found that 42% of 16-35-year-olds who were surveyed said they would like to continue to cook at home when life returns to normal.

The same survey also revealed that while the nation might be shopping less, more products are being bought in a single shop. 37% revealed they now plan ahead for the week with 28% choosing to shop online. Interestingly, when asked if they would maintain these new habits, 42% said they would continue to support local independent stores. Only 36% said they would be visiting big branded shops. 

Of course, as we head closer to normality and we begin to juggle work, children and a social life, these preferences may change. But for the time being, it seems the nation is planning ahead and shopping around – which leads us onto our next point… 

Food choices 

Lockdown and subsequent panic buying prompted a ‘waste not want not’ mentality, with almost seven in ten saying they are looking at ways to waste less food at home. It’s no surprise then that sales of canned and frozen food soared. 

Fresh food is still selling though, with 23% of Brits saying they are now eating more of their five a day. And in search of immune-boosting food, 37% said they were adding more nutrients to their meals. Mintel confirmed this by saying that the pandemic has resulted in “a move towards plant-based, growing interest in ‘healing foods’, and greater demand for long-life products.” 

Even before the pandemic, certain food trends were on the rise. However, thanks to more time at home and growing health awareness, interest in vegan diets and convenient food has increased. But, who’s to say there won’t be something else taking centre stage soon? 

What does this mean for manufacturers?

Manufacturers will need to keep a close eye on these trends to see if these changes are long-term or temporary – adapting their produce and processes as consumer preferences, habits and expectations change.

And they need to have a level of agility. While these are challenging times, there is a huge opportunity for manufacturers in the F&D sector – namely the accelerated innovation of some products. 

How are you ensuring that you can meet the ever-changing needs of the public? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn