What does the post covid kitchen hold?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the food industry has been turned upside down. So much has changed – from how people cook at home, order takeaway, and choose where to dine, and even what groceries people buy. Specifically, home cooking has seen a massive resurgence in popularity.
But it is of course not that simple, especially as societies start to open up again and vaccination rates increase. What we want to know is whether people will keep cooking at home. More importantly, we want to know what people care about regarding food consumption and preparation after the pandemic.
What changes has COVID-19 brought to home cooking?
Even though it seemed straightforward to see an increase in home cooking, there is more to discover below the surface. With the absence of dining out, people started to seek other food solutions and shift the need toward home cooking, takeaways, and private chefs. And of course, home cooking is the most straightforward and economical solution.
In general, a study about cooking habits in the US has shown that 44% of people cook more often since the onset of COVID-19. A few months into the pandemic, some people even started enjoying cooking and baking, and felt more confident and passionate about it than ever.
However, in the meantime, cooking fatigue is widely discussed as well. A survey about home cooking under the pandemic indicated that people feel weary after cooking at home for a few months. With the restaurant restriction, people have no other choice than to cook at home and prepare nine meals a week on average, which some can experience as a bit of a chore or even a source of stress.
Under such circumstances, it can be exhausting to do meal planning for oneself, let alone for a household of several people. Planning what to cook remains the biggest challenge when cooking at home during the pandemic.
Another related topic is grocery shopping, an integral part of home cooking. The second biggest challenge of home cooking under the pandemic is the risk of exposure to COVID-19 whilst grocery shopping.
In addition, food insecurity become another important issue here. The pandemic impacted most facets of normal life, and even undermined global food supply chains, which made more people food-insecure. When feeling the threat of food shortage, people changed their behaviours of grocery shopping.
So, will people keep on cooking?
Just like other aspects of daily lives impacted by COVID-19, the home cooking habit may well persist.
With more “practice” of cooking, people significantly gained more confidence and found they actually liked it. Among people who cook more often, 81% of them found it enjoyable to cook and 71% of them intend to continue doing so after the pandemic, and another research predicted in a similar direction.
Certainly, the enjoyment of cooking is one of the reasons behind it, but there are other reasons as well. Saving money is the most significant one of them all. Due to COVID-19, people tend to be more careful with their spending and more risk-averse. It’s the same with the grocery budget. Compared to pre-covid situation, 42% of people always pay more attention to their grocery budget. And when asked about why they continue cooking, they cite “saving money” most frequently, followed by “eating healthier”.
What do people care about?
- Quicker solutions and more ideas:
Even though people want to embrace home cooking, they wish to spend less time on planning and cooking meals. As a reflection of cooking fatigue, planning meals and coming up with something new is the exhausting part, so it’d be ideal if people can have a quicker solution and get easy meal ideas.
- Healthier diet:
The pandemic further heightened the awareness of personal health and diet. People admitted that they ordered more takeaways as a break from cooking every day and that takeaways have made their diet more unhealthy. Also, as previously mentioned, “eating healthy” is the second biggest reason why people want to continue on cooking at home. To let people embrace home cooking, what people want is not only quicker but also healthier.
- More meatless:
Following the previous discussion of veganism, COVID-19 will only accelerate this trend, and the choice of plant-based materials will get more attention. Not only are there more meatless options in supermarkets, like plant-based meat and plant jerky, but also mushrooms are gaining even greater popularity among vegans and vegetarians.
In addition to the boost of pursuit of wellness caused by COVID-19, people are more and more aware of the impact of their diet on the environment. While some people are ready to be vegan and vegetarian, flexitarianism has become a popular choice for people who want to take a stand on environmental awareness as well.
- Low-waste food:
Low-waste food is more popular than ever, and there are two reasons. First, choosing low-waste food is how people cope with the threat of food insecurity mentioned previously. Second, in response to environmental awareness and sustainability, low-waste food is another way for individuals to contribute to a sustainability goals.
- More frozen food:
People are trying to eliminate the frequency of visiting stores and are stocking more grocery at once. In that case, frozen food has become a convenient option.
Why is it important?
Food is a big part of our lives, and even as people enjoy food every day, it also evolves every day. Especially when society is experiencing massive turbulence, consumer behaviour around food changes drastically.
This type of change might be too fast and dramatic to keep up with, and all the new information coming up every day can be overwhelming. Therefore, we, ADK Insights, constantly keep track of these trends, and provide you with essential insights to prepare you for the future and pave the way for your strategy.