News Sustainable Food

News study reveals pandemic has changed how people buy and eat

New research shows UK consumers' shopping and eating habits are more influenced by ethics and sustainability since the pandemic.

Taryn Elliott / Pexels

Taryn Elliott / Pexels

The survey of more than 1,000 UK adults by Proagrica, which explored purchasing habits since the pandemic began, found that 71% are reducing food miles by puchasing local produce, 57% are shifting to less polluting food products by reducing their meat and dairy consumption and 46% are opting for ethically farmed animal products, for example, MSc-certified fish or free range chickens. Furthermore, over a third of consumers (37%) suggest they are now eating more organic food, with the same number choosing more alt-protein in their diet, such as soya bean, plant-based meat and pea protein.

The results of the study suggests the pandemic has fueled a rise of plant-based diets; one in five have eaten more vegetarian and vegan food since March 2020 and almost a third (29%) expressed they will consider reducing their meat consumption or go vegetarian/vegan if the pandemic continues this year. 

The research also highlighted the pandemic has seen a shift in how consumers purchase their food. Around one in six (15%) now buy the bulk of their food online, and a fifth (21%) say they now shop more often and spend less per trip, to avoid creating food waste, and 12% buy frozen food or freeze their own food more than previously.

Findings revealed what UK consumers think the agricultural sector should prioritise to meet its environmental responsibilities: 48% think decreasing the use of pesticides is the number one consideration, while 20% see the main focus as reducing water use through smart irrigation, rainwater recycling and recovery and other methods.

Ren Piercey, Local Action Officer,

'Whilst this research is just a small snapshot of views from across the UK, the data showing a shift towards consumers' wanting to buy food that is responsibly sourced, from more climate friendly farmer-focussed supply chains aligns with the trends we have been seeing through Sustain's own research. This is a promising development is consumer behaviour and a prime opportunity to create national and local policies and support for good food producers, enterprises and businesses to thrive as we emerge from the pandemic.'



Published Friday 4 June 2021

Sustainable Food: What you can do - and ask others to do - to help make our food and farming system fit for the future.

Latest related news

Support our charity

Donate to enhance the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet.


The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2024
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies