Consumers Talk Plans for Eating After COVID-19

Consumers Talk Plans for Eating After COVID-19
New Acosta research shows that consumers are eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home more often since COVID-19 than before the pandemic.

A new report from Acosta titled "COVID-19: Reinventing How America Eats" breaks down changes to retail spending and eating habits, highlights new opportunities for manufacturers and looks at how consumers plan to eat after the pandemic. 

More than half of shoppers (55%) are eating at home more often since the pandemic began, but this doesn't mean that they haven't had challenges. A quarter of shoppers are sick of having to cook more, while 35% of shoppers have found a new passion for cooking.

The biggest challenges shoppers reported when meal planning are: grocery shopping because of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in public (45%), which may account for rising e-commerce rates; planning different meals every day (40%); lacking a food/ingredient needed to make a meal (38%); and improving cooking skills (17%).

After the pandemic is over, many diners anticipate eating out less than before or not at all (47% less plan to go out for breakfast, 33% less for lunch and 29% less for dinner). 

"With more than half of consumers eating at home more often and some with less money to spend, there are a myriad of challenges and opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to navigate," said Colin Stewart, executive vice president, business intelligence at Acosta. "The implications of staying at home and reduced commutes are far reaching and jolted channel trends. Foodservice sales surpassed retail food & beverage sales in 2015 and were expected to continue to gain share, until the pandemic hit. Now, even the best-case scenario for foodservice will end the year in the red. Other trends, like e-commerce, have been accelerated, with online food, beverage and alcohol spend expected to increase 30% this year."

Acosta recommends a number of manufacturer opportunities to navigate the new normal:

  • Understand consumers' needs and provide solutions and inspiration.
  • Utilize technology to drive toward labor-saving solutions.
  • Leverage the power of partnerships by extending foodservice brands and chef-forward ideas into retail.
  • Focus on efficacy of packaging by food type to deliver a dining-in quality food experience.

Acosta's research was compiled from online surveys conducted between July 8 and July 15.

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