UK eating more fruit and veg during pandemic

By Jerome Smail

- Last updated on GMT

UK consumers have eaten more fruit and vegetables during the coronavirus pandemic. IMG: Rick Ligthelm
UK consumers have eaten more fruit and vegetables during the coronavirus pandemic. IMG: Rick Ligthelm

Related tags: coronavirus

The UK increased its consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables by 33% and 31% respectively during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by EIT Food.

However, the initiative, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, also found a rise in the UK’s consumption of convenience food (29%), alcohol (29%) and tasty treats (34%).

The findings were revealed from a survey of 5,000 consumers in ten European countries to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer food behaviours.

The research was carried out by a consortium of universities in Europe, led by Aarhus University, Denmark.

The ten countries surveyed were Spain, Sweden, Germany, UK, Poland, Italy, France, Greece, Finland, Romania.

Cooking behaviours

The report also highlighted contradicting trends in cooking behaviours.

UK consumers would appear to have rediscovered a pleasure for cooking during the pandemic, with 42% saying they were spending more time experimenting with new recipes.

However, snacking, rather than eating set meals, increased by 27% during the same period.

Explaining the apparent contradictory findings of the report, Professor Klaus Grunert of Aarhus University said: "There is a general trend towards more home cooking, and more enjoyment in the kitchen and during meals. However, not everybody is a budding gourmet cook with an abundance of time on their hands.

“Convenience foods need not be meal replacements. They can be products that help people achieve enjoyment in the kitchen and at family dinner tables, and it is up to the industry to develop products suitable for this.”

UK shopping habits

Shopping behaviours changed significantly during lockdown and there was large growth in online food shopping, both for groceries and restaurant deliveries, according to the research.

British consumers recorded Europe's third highest rise in online shopping (up 54%), after Greece and Spain.

Over a third (35%) of the European consumers surveyed said that buying locally produced food has become more important to them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trend for shopping locally is set to continue, with almost nine in ten (87%) reporting that they were very likely to continue doing so in the future.

“There is definitely potential for the trends highlighted in the report to continue beyond the pandemic, particularly as we have seen that the Covid-19 has only accelerated existing trends,” ​said Professor Grunert.

Just over half of British consumers (51%) said they faced financial struggles during Covid-19, slightly below the European average of 54%.

Related topics: Fresh produce, COVID-19, Operations

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