People are eating healthier, shunning ready meals, cooking their own food, and consuming more fruit and vegetables, according to preliminary results from a worldwide Coronavirus Cooking Survey.
Locked down consumers turn to fruit and veg, shunning ready meals
Consumers cut spending on ready-made meals and bought more fruit and vegetables, turning to healthier eating during coronavirus lockdowns, preliminary results of a research project showed. With everyone forced to stay home, people are also trying new recipes and throwing away less food, the survey of nearly 11,000 shoppers in 11 countries found. “Amid lockdowns people are eating healthier, are cooking their own food and are consuming more fruit and vegetables,” said Charlotte De Backer, who coordinated the study at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
People are wasting less food, eating more leftovers, and planning meals in advance
Consumers cut spending on ready-made meals and bought more fruit and vegetables, turning to healthier eating during coronavirus lockdowns, preliminary results of a research project showed. People forced to stay home also tried new recipes and threw away less food, the survey of nearly 11,000 shoppers in 11 countries found.
“Amid lockdowns people are eating healthier, are cooking their own food and are consuming more fruit and vegetables,” Charlotte De Backer, chairman of FOOMS, a research group on food and media at University of Antwerp (Belgium), and coordinator of the study, told Reuters.
Based on analysis of answers to the survey by 11,000 people in 11 countries, consumers reported fewer purchases of microwave-prepared foods, and fewer purchases of sweet and salty snacks.
“Consumption of salty, fat and sweet products usually goes up when people are under stress, but during the pandemic this heightened craving has been fulfilled in many countries with home-baked delicacies,” said De Backer.
Furthermore, the study, conducted by the University of Antwerp in collaboration with the universities of Ghent and Leuven, is revealing that as more people rely less on ready meals, the act of cooking in their kitchens has become more of a habit as workers are banished from their office buildings and spend more time at home.
The good news, De Backer told Reuters is that some of these eating habits are likely to outlast the pandemic, because in many countries lockdowns lasted longer than the six weeks it takes to form a new habit.
One of the key barriers to home cooking may be torn down
People forced to stay home also tried new recipes and threw away less food, the survey of nearly 11,000 shoppers in 11 countries found. The survey, based on voluntary online responses from April 17 to May 7, of which 6,700 were from Belgium, will be extended to consumers in about 25 countries with final results due by the end of June.
Survey coordinator De Backer said the preliminary findings showed clear trends that were unlikely to be modified by new data, as the pandemic has strengthened people’s attention to food and healthier options.
In all surveyed countries people bought more fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables throughout lockdowns, a change De Backer said could be explained by heightened health concerns.
Careful planning to cut time spent in supermarkets could also have contributed, De Backer said. “If you make a shopping list, you plan your meals ahead and you are less likely to add unhealthy food.”
Respondents to the survey, who were mostly women, also tried new recipes during the pandemic and used more left-overs, reducing food waste.
This attitude is linked to fears of food shortages, De Backer said, and is likely to recede once consumers see no more empty shelves in supermarkets, which have suffered some supply disruptions during the pandemic.
But some of the eating habits are likely to outlast the epidemic, De Backer added, because in many countries lockdowns lasted longer than the six weeks it takes to form a new habit. Also, as people grow more confident in the kitchen, trying new recipes, one of the key barriers to home cooking may be torn down, De Backer said.
FOOMS regularly posts updates on the Corona Cooking Survey research on their Facebook page, while anyone can contribute to the science by taking the survey on the University of Antwerp website.
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