covid consumer diets

How Changing Consumer Diets May Impact Food and Beverage

COVID-19 Primary Research Series Part 5

Consumers’ eating habits have been changing in surprising ways due to COVID-19. Week 8 of Glanbia Nutritional’s consumer survey research reveals that 63 percent of consumers have changed their diets a little, somewhat, or a lot since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began, with many now making their own foods and beverages at home. See how these new consumer behaviors may affect the food industry.

Consumers’ Shifting Eating Patterns

The COVID-19 situation has caused disruptions in many aspects of daily life, including food and beverage consumption. Restrictions on restaurant dining, closures of schools and workplaces and their associated cafeterias, and out-of-stock items at the grocery stores are all factors that have forced new eating patterns on many consumers.

Our Week 8 survey found that only 21 percent of consumers are eating exactly the same as they did pre-COVID-19. The remainder have been affected in one way or another, with 23 percent reporting the way they eat has “mostly changed” and 14 percent reporting their eating has “completely changed” since the start of the stay-at-home orders.

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Consumers Showing Interest in Starting a Diet

With so many changes in consumer eating and exercise patterns since the COVID-19 outbreak, we also asked consumers about their views and intentions surrounding dieting. While 21 percent reported they’ve been able to maintain or improve their diets during the stay-at-home orders, 42 percent reported they’re planning on or thinking about starting a diet once things return to normal. 

This may indicate that stay-at-home orders have led to less-than-ideal exercise and eating habits for these consumers and that they wish to do better. This could represent an opportunity for manufacturers who make healthy nutrition products—for example, by introducing a targeted marketing campaign geared toward those consumers whose diets have gotten off-track during COVID-19.

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Consumers Making Their Own Food During COVID-19 Pandemic

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In earlier weeks, our consumer surveys uncovered changes in where consumers were buying their groceries, how often they were shopping, and what types of products they were buying. In week 8, we uncovered another aspect of consumers’ changing eating patterns—what consumers have stopped buying and started making for themselves.

Forty percent of consumers reported they're now making food and beverage products at home that they normally would have purchased away from home. When asked which products they’ve started making at home, the top answers were bakery products and ready-to-drink beverages—specifically, baked goods at 68 percent, coffee/latte/espresso drinks at 44 percent, bread at 32 percent, juice at 30 percent, and cocktails/adult beverages at 24 percent. Other items consumers have been making for themselves include canned/preserved goods, protein shakes, and non-dairy milk.

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Our survey also queried consumers to understand if these new behaviors might become permanent habits. After stay-at-home orders have been lifted, the majority of respondents who’ve been making their own baked goods, protein shakes, adult beverages, coffee beverages, juice, bread, or pasta plan to continue doing so, at least some of the time. 

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These long-term changes have the potential to affect restaurants, as well as food retailers and manufacturers. For example, consumers who’ve become comfortable preparing a variety of high-end coffee beverages or cocktails may be more likely to invite friends to their home in lieu of meeting at a café or bar. For retailers and manufacturers, these new behaviors could lead to decreased sales of certain products and increased sales of others—such as flour, yeast, and protein powders.

Meeting Consumer Needs During and After COVID-19

We can expect consumers’ food purchasing and consumption patterns to continue shifting in response to the changes of the day. Glanbia’s consumer research is designed to keep you up-to-date on these shifts so you can support your customers and their changing needs. 

Contact Glanbia Nutritionals to learn more about our COVID-19 consumer behavior tracking and how these changes could impact your company.

Read Part 4 - Consumers Changing Brands as COVID-19 Impacts Supply Chain.