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How and why are we eating differently during Covid-19?

Alliance member Hubbub have undertaken a public poll to assess changes in eating habits during the lockdown

Photo by Nielsen Ramon on Unsplash

Photo by Nielsen Ramon on Unsplash

Since the current lockdown was announced to control the spread of Covid-19, almost everyone in the UK will have experienced some effect on what and how they eat. Restaurants have closed and free time at home has increased. Meanwhile, many people have less money to spend after losing income, and some foods have become harder to find in shops due to stockpiling and stretched supply.

Sustainability activist group Hubbub wanted to know what effect these changes have had on eating habits. To find out, they polled 2,000 people across the UK.

From their findings, the economic impact on households appears to be very real. 43% of respondents said they are worried about the extra cost of providing food for their household, and over 50% of those aged 25 – 44. Conversely, a quarter of respondents said they are buying better quality food as a result of saving money on eating out or other expenses.

At the same time, results indicate many people are appreciating the value of food more, with some evidence that people are enjoying cooking more and finding more time to eat with their family or housemates.

Responses suggest that people are valuing food more and reducing waste. 48% said they are throwing away less food. Reasons include planning meals more carefully (51%) and using leftovers (41%). Over a quarter of those saying they are wasting less claimed they are giving more accurate portion sizes and the same proportion said they are leaving less on the plate.

Changes have also been seen in how people shop. A quarter of respondents said they are buying better quality food as a result of saving money on eating out or other expenses. More than a third of people have begun supporting more smaller/local businesses. 29% said they were using their local convenience store for the first time.

These findings are an interesting snapshot of how attitudes and habits may have changed as a result of lockdown. More research and industry data is needed to illuminate the overall picture. What is clear from our collective experiences of the pandemic is that there are clear knock-on effects from disruptions to food supply, and many more people are vulnerable to hunger when things change abruptly. We need local, industry and policy responses that can deliver a resilient and sustainable food system.  

Read the full survey results on Hubbub’s website and find out how Hubbub is helping distribute food, reduce waste and make food go further.

Published Friday 24 April 2020

Food Waste: Sustain supports a reduction in food surplus, loss and waste.

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