A taste of home: How the pandemic has changed our domestic eating habits

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Posted Apr 27, 2022
Trevor Brown

The impact of coronavirus has been all-encompassing. Few things have remained the same since the pandemic first began affecting us. Various changes to our normal ways of living have touched nearly all aspects of our lives, including how and what we eat. 

One clear change that resulted from this is more people cooking from home. It started near the beginning of Covid when everyone was sharing bread recipes online. Forced to stay home, it was like everyone rediscovered their kitchen.

This trend may have subsided somewhat with restaurants reopening, but it's far from back to where it was. More people today are cooking at home and avoiding eating out, which has led to economic and social changes that affect nearly every food-service company.

Understanding these new habits is crucial for any company wanting to grow in the industry. Market research is the critical element that separates successful businesses from unsuccessful ones. That is why we wanted to create this article, outlining the changes to the food industry since the pandemic.

Altered food habits

Coronavirus has shifted nearly every corner of our economy, and the way we consume food is no exception. 85% of consumers report altering their eating habits in some way because of the pandemic.

We’ll focus on more of the reasons below, but this change itself is worth discussing first. This has driven changes in how the public eats, cooks, and shops for their food. Though this started because of lockdowns and social distancing, it may continue by choice for financial reasons.

More snacks

As people find themselves at home longer, the growing demand for snack food is becoming clear. Now that the pantry is always nearby, more people find themselves reaching for something light throughout the day.

Healthier options

The pandemic has affected the type of food we eat as well. At the pandemic's beginning, many may have initially found themselves turning to comfort food. As time went on, however, the trend has been overwhelmingly in favor of healthier options. 

Even the act of more people cooking from home is enough to see this. A homecooked meal will almost always be a healthier option than most people eat when going out.

Food labeling

People focus on healthier eating choices by examining product labels. This manifests in a few different ways but ultimately relates to an increased need for transparency.

People are now more invested in the nutrition information of the food they consume. Many brands have responded by revamping their nutrition information, often adding information or making it easier to read.

Regulated (and unregulated) labels applied to food products are increasingly important. With labels like “GMO”, it generates a negative correlation since it makes products seem less organic. “Bioengineered” and “Derived from Bioengineering” are other labels that fall into this category.

On the other side, food that has a “natural” label has a more favorable consideration among the public. The interesting element here is that this particular label has no regulated definition. Still, similar labels are likely to have a positive correlation with sales.

Meaningful ingredients

When moving towards healthier food options, it’s becoming more important for ingredients to be meaningful. Certain customers are more likely to buy products high in fiber, containing whole grains, and utilizing plant protein. 

Processed foods or products with frivolous ingredients are less likely to gain favorability moving forward. As people return to cooking food at home, foods that feel artificial or meaningless to someone’s diet will not be as desirable.

Meal delivery services

Meal delivery services were already gaining popularity before the pandemic pushed people indoors. These services will send all of the ingredients and recipes necessary for a week’s meals. Members sign up, provide their dietary restrictions, and wait for a box to arrive every week with their dinners. 

With the increase in people cooking at home, many of these services are skyrocketing in popularity. These programs are an easy and affordable way to make sure you have the right food in the fridge. Many also enjoy having less food waste since they get all the ingredients they need and nothing else.

While there are many causes for celebration, the future of these companies is slightly more nuanced.

Supply chain concerns

Supply chain concerns are frequent in many industries and recently began to crop up here, as well. The rapidly expanding customer base occurred when these problems were beginning. The industry was certainly not exempt from the impact this had.

After the pandemic?

It’s unclear what will happen to the meal delivery services after the pandemic is over. When there is no longer any fear of leaving the home, many may switch to going to the store themselves.

That said, there is a benefit in that these companies are subscription-based ways to make your dinner. Though it may seem a minor convenience, these services are increasingly popular. 

Recent reports indicate that the subscription economy will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025. While this is a more general category than the meal delivery services, it’s also likely to impact them positively. 

More plant-based diets

Vegetarianism and veganism have been experiencing an upward trend in popularity. These days, the trend is moving faster, driven by influencers and celebrities endorsing the lifestyle.

While maintaining a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle is difficult when eating out, it’s much easier when cooking from home. This, linked with the fact that people are looking for healthier options, has made this option seem more attractive.

Adding to this surge is an ever-growing collection of plant-based meat substitutes. As these options grow more diverse, it’s become less difficult to live a life without meat. This has led to many finally taking the plunge after considering it for a while.

Staying ahead of the competition

Without understanding the market's shifts, it is impossible for businesses operating in this space to prepare with the right moves. Adequate marketing research allows companies to plan for the future instead of taking a reactionary response to everything. 

Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of your market can be difficult, especially in the rapidly evolving food industry. Luckily, aytm is here to help!

Our dedicated team of experts delivers the best market research experience possible. 

We do this by offering a proprietary panel of over 100 million people worldwide. In addition to this, we offer a survey platform where you can program, send, and analyze your own surveys.

Or, if you’d rather, we’ll do all the work for you. With our research services, we can offer a full-service market research program—taking it off your plate, and handling it for you.
Give us a call today at (415)364-8601 or head here to get a demo. We would love to help you learn all there is to know about your industry and market.

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