85% of Americans have experienced changes to their habits around preparing and eating food, according to a new survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC). Half of those surveyed also expressed safety concerns around eating food which hasn't been prepared in their own home.
The survey, which took place in early April, involved Americans aged 18 to 80. It revealed that it's disproportionately younger Americans who are likely to have changed their diet throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, whether healthy or unhealthy. 41% of over 35s, and the same percentage of parents with children under 18, are turning to snacks to get through lockdown measures. This is mostly due to hunger, but 25% deem snacking a lockdown treat.
Unsurprisingly, the largest change among Americans during the coronavirus pandemic has been an increase in cooking at home. 57% of Americans have increased spending on groceries while in quarantine, according to a recent survey from Ameritrade. Snacking and washing fresh produce also increased significantly, according to the survey. To be sure you're doing this safely, check out our guide to sanitizing your food.
"More than a third of Americans also say that they actively avoid foods and beverages as a result of their concerns about the food safety issues" according to the IFIC, with 20% feeling very concerned when eating food prepared outside of the home such as takeout.
COVID-19 has led to an increase in pre-made meals
Another change is the nearly 20% increase in eating pre-made meals from home. SunBasket CEO Don Barnett recently described eating at home the "new normal", predicting a sustained growth in the rise of the best meal kit delivery services beyond lockdown. However, it may just be the 92% increase in sales of frozen pizza which is responsible for the rise in pre-made meals.
Grocery shopping has also changed, although less dramatically than other areas of food behaviour. According to the IFIC, "the amount of in-person shopping is down, especially among those in poorer health. Meanwhile, online grocery shopping has increased." However, "the changes have not been entirely drastic – the biggest shift for in-person shopping is that fewer Americans are making multiple trips a week". This may be because slots from the best grocery delivery services have been hard to come by in recent months, which has forced many to shop in person when they may have preferred to shop online.
Fitness trackers are increasing awareness
95% of those who use devices to monitor their health have reported an increased awareness of their general health and fitness, with 66% saying this has led to healthy changes.