Researchers examine consumers’ shopping and cooking habits before and during Covid19 restrictions

Flour is up there with toilet roll as a commodity that is in high demand at the moment. Retailers are working closely with suppliers to keep stocks of baking ingredients on shelves as a result of the dramatic rise in the number of people who are baking in response to Covid19 restrictions.

But has Covid19 influenced wider aspects of consumer attitudes and behaviour with regards to food?

Researchers from Teagasc and UCC are collaborating with the University of Antwerp and universities across the globe to find out more about consumer shopping, cooking and baking, eating and media habits before and during the Covid19 restrictions.

Universities and research institutions from twenty eight countries have already signed up to undertake this research so, we will be able to find out how Irish consumers have changed compared with other European and international consumers.

Shopping behaviour has clearly changed as a result of social distancing with people spending more time queuing to get into shops for example, however questions remain such as: how has this impacted on who does the shopping, the use of shopping lists, and preference for local suppliers?

With many parents using baking and cooking as a way to occupy children at home, are consumers using their time to develop their culinary skills and will future generations be more 'food savvy'?

Is a lack of time really one of the main barriers to cooking and baking on a regular basis? Is Granny's recipe for scones still the gold standard, or are online influencers taking over? These are the kinds of questions we will be able to answer through this survey."

Maeve Henchion, Professor and Head of Department of Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis, Teagasc

"Anecdotal evidence indicates a renewed interest in baking and more cooking from scratch. However wine consumption and treating has also increased. So while we might expect health motivations to increase in importance at this time, is this actually the case across all age groups?

"This survey will enable us to quantify this and other changes in food-related behaviour and attitudes, and the international collaboration will enable us to see difference in the impact of Covid19 restrictions on Irish consumers compared to others on an international basis," says Professor Mary McCarthy, Professor in Marketing in Cork University Business School.

Dr Sinead McCarthy, Department of Agrifood Business and Spatial Analysis in Teagasc says: "many of the changes we are seeing in consumer food-related behaviour and attitudes are temporary, but some will be more permanent in nature. We need to understand this now to help Irish farmers, food producers and retailers adapt to the post-Covid19 context".

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