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Coronavirus has changed 85% of consumers’ food habits. Here’s what foodservice distributors need to know, as they plan their forecasts this year.

foodservice-consumer-habitsIn celebration of Blue Ridge as a partner at the Golbon virtual foodservice distribution conference this month, we’re dedicating today’s post to some fun facts of interest to our foodservice customers.

Several trends from a study by the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) annual Food & Health Survey found that, despite COVID-19, 85% (more than 4 out of 5) consumers say the Coronavirus pandemic has changed their food habits, driving them to cook, eat, shop and think about food differently.

Promising to the foodservice industry is the fact that consumers still trust the safety of the food system. As you forecast for your grocery and restaurant customers, here are 13 interesting food consumer habits that might come in handy from the survey:

  1. 85% of consumers are doing something differently since the pandemic
  2. 60% are cooking at home more
  3. One-third are snacking more and washing produce more
  4. About 1 in 5 consumers reported making healthier choices (possibly from cooking more?), while about half said they are eating less healthy (let’s not get into day-drinking!)
  5. 67% have confidence in the safety of the food system, down just 1 percentage point from the 68% who felt that way last year
  6. The top food safety concern this year was not foodborne illness or chemicals, but contamination from food handling or preparation in light of the pandemic; about half said they were concerned about eating food prepared outside of their homes
  7. While 88% said taste is still the top reason consumers choose food, 3 out of 5 consider how healthy items are
  8. Slightly more than half of consumers have made changes to their diets to promote healthfulness in the last 6 months
  9. Functional and healthy ingredients are important to consumers, with about a quarter specifically seeking them out. The ingredients that consumers consider healthiest (AND the most sought-after products) are:
    1. Fiber (more than 80%),
    2. Whole grains (close to 80%) and
    3. Plant proteins (70%)
  10. Nearly 3 in 10 are increasing their consumption of plant proteins in the last year
  11. Red meat and dairy are being avoided the most (with consumption being cut by one-third of respondents and 1 in 5 respondents, respectively)
  12. “Natural” label claims… More than 40% are influenced by products labeled “natural” at the grocery store, while about 20% find it influential on a menu
  13. GMO labeling… More than 3 in 10 would be influenced by a “non-GMO” label; fewer than 10% said the same about a “bioengineered” label

About IFIC’s Survey

It’s done every year to communicate science-based information on food health, safety and nutrition, and capture consumers’ pulse on the food system, how they use food for health, and the role food and labeling information play in their choices.

This year 1,011 adults participated in the survey, done between April 8 and 16 after many consumers had spent several weeks at home.

Demand Planning Resources for Foodservice Distributors

Whether or not you are attending Golbon’s virtual conference, we invite you to chat with one of our foodservice distribution supply chain planning experts. We can show you how we’ve helped some of the top foodservice distributors in the world simplify chaos in foodservice demand planning – including long/variable lead times, seasonal demand, managing promotions and new items, reducing spoilage and more.

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Learn More About Blue Ridge Foodservice Distribution Inventory Optimization Solutions