How the COVID pandemic has changed the way we eat and drink

Laura Hampson
·3-min read
More shoppers than ever are buying their food online, a new Waitrose report has found (Getty)
More shoppers than ever are buying their food online, a new Waitrose report has found (Getty)

In a year where our coffee of choice has gone from the takeaway Pret next to our office to a homemade jug in our kitchen, it’s no surprise that our food habits have altered dramatically.

According to Waitrose’s annual report, the way Brits prepare, cook and consume food and drink has altered significantly.

The report reveals that 70% of Brits spend more time cooking different meals on the weekend - over half of respondents said they had been more experimental with their meals this year. Most Brits (74%) said they have replaced their commute with cooking dinner.

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Almost three quarters of Brits now do at least part of their grocery shopping online compared to 61% in 2019. Under 35s were the age group more likely to dip into the world of online grocery shopping, with a third of millennials and Gen Z’s shopping online for the first time this year.

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It was the year that the big weekly shop also saw a comeback, with 47% of people stating that they shopped just once per week compared to 35% in 2016.

As Jane Orchard, manager of store innovation at Waitrose, says: “Many people are discovering the benefits of the weekly shop again. Many have found the benefits of this more thoughtful approach to planning food – such as cutting waste or saving money – meaning the habit may stick.”

Shopping local was also a big trend in 2020, with Waitrose reporting that searches on UK social media for ‘local shops’ was up by 179% compared to last year.

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Eating healthy also appears to have been a greater focal point, with 70% of respondents saying they felt more of a need to keep on top of their mental and physical health, while the supermarket reported that it had seen a 230% increase in searches for high fibre recipes and high protein searches were up by 330% too.

And with Brexit on the horizon, Waitrose reported that there was a 160% rise in searches for British produce on its site.

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Food waste was another pressing issue in the report, which surveyed 2,000 people of all ages across the UK, including non-Waitrose shoppers, with 41% of shoppers urging supermarkets to make more of an effort to cut food waste, while 77% said they tried not to waste any food over the pandemic. Some people even discovered their green thumbs with a third saying they grew their own food over the first lockdown and have continued to do so.

And in terms of coffee... 59% of Brits now spend more times making coffees during breaks from work than they did a year ago.

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