How is lockdown changing our relationship with food?

Date : 02 July 2020

Hannah Skeggs

Nutrition & Scientific Affairs Manager

To accompany our Navigating beyond coronavirus resources, this article looks at how consumer behaviour towards food, health and wellness have changed during lockdown and what the future may hold.

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has transformed many aspects of our lives and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Within the food and consumer goods industry the impact has been significant. The out of home sector has taken a huge hit and with consumer nervousness1, financial confidence low2 and a recession on the way, the future could be challenging.

But the increase of in-home eating occasions has prompted some fascinating changes in consumer behaviour as people engage more with their food and some seek to support their health and wellness goals.

What are we seeing already?

Balancing traditional and experimental

We’ve seen people returning in some ways to a more conventional way of life. 37%1 of shoppers claim to have cooked more from scratch during lockdown and using the dining room table is back in fashion. In fact, nearly half of households with children have managed to sit down and eat meals together more during lockdown than previously3. Interestingly a survey of one thousand 14-19 year olds across England found 60% feel eating as a family has positively impacted their health and wellbeing while in lockdown4.

The ongoing flour shortage has also highlighted the huge surge in home baking. 41% claim to have baked more during lockdown and the majority of these shoppers say they’ll continue to bake once lockdown is over.

But we’re also seeing new, experimental behaviours formed, with people committing more time to food than before.

Over half of people have cooked recipes they hadn’t previously, possibly trying to bring the excitement of out of home dining in.

6% of the population, and a staggering 9% of Londoners, have tried a veg box scheme or ordered food from a local farm for the very first time, which equates to 3 million people5

And this tells us so much more about the way people are buying, preparing and consuming their food. People seem to be more connected with their meals than ever before, often sourcing local, and enjoying time spent preparing and eating.

How might this evolve in the short and longer term?

At IGD we’ve undertaken work to understand not only how behaviour has changed as a result of the pandemic, but to hypothesise how this may evolve in the future, impacting on attitudes, business planning and of course public health.

You can find our Navigating beyond coronavirus resource here, or watch our webinar recording.

We strongly believe that food and health will become a bigger focus for people, but it will also become broader. Even prior to the crisis - our 2019 health deep dive research saw shoppers talking more holistically about health; but we’ve seen this really escalate during lockdown with people using health apps6, prioritising physical activity7 and seeking immunity claims8.

However, the huge challenge following this pandemic is affordability.

Many are already struggling financially, and this means that affordability will become key for some often, overriding good intentions and desire for health. Consumers may have to make trade–offs, prioritising affordability over nutrition. There is however an opportunity for industry to drive health through value proposition.

We’ll continue to track and report on how these changes evolve, highlighting opportunities to transition these short-term trends into long term, positive behaviour change.

For more insights see IGD’s ShopperVista service.


  1. IGD research, June 2020. Base: 2,029 British Shoppers.
  2. IGD research, May 2020. Shopper Confidence Index.
  3. IGD research, June 2020. Shoppers of Our Time.
  4. Bite Back 2030 & Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, 2020. Hungry for Change Report.
  5. YouGov, 2020
  6. NHS, 2020. My possible self app.
  7. Savanta ComRes, April 2020. Sport England: Survey into Adult Physical Activity Attitudes and Behaviour
  8. Superdrug. Sales data, 2020

Navigating beyond coronavirus - how could health and wellness evolve?

In these unprecedented circumstances, health, wellness and food are increasingly important to consumers. To help your business plan for the pandemic and beyond, IGD has developed hypotheses of how the UK health and wellness agenda will evolve in the short and longer term.