The pandemic has become an agent of change across food shopping, dining, and cooking habits, with one significant and connected realm being within eating behavior as consumers shelter in place at home. In a recent podcast that reported findings taken both pre-pandemic and then within COVID-19 from The Hartman Group's Eating Occasions Compass database, Renee Wheeler, a senior consultant with Hartman Retainer Services, notes, "Maybe it's not too surprising, but we see that away-from-home eating occasions declined almost by half: typically, prior to the pandemic, about three-quarters of eating occasions took place at home, while the other one-quarter took place at work, restaurants, and other away-from-home locations. Today, restaurant closures and working from home have resulted in a large increase in at-home eating, reaching 88% of all eating and drinking occasions in Spring 2020 (up 12% from 2019), while away-from-home occasions have dropped from 24% to 12% of all eating occasions."

Asked to comment on any surprises she saw in a new Hartman Group report that highlights changes in eating and shopping habits (COVID-19’s Impact on Eating), Wheeler notes, "One surprising finding is that same-day food sourcing has survived the surge we saw in stock-up shopping at the start of the pandemic — in fact, 32% of eating occasions that take place outside of restaurants involve items purchased the same day they were consumed (down 3 percentage points from Spring 2019, which is not a significant change). Even though stock-up trips have increased, almost one-third of occasions involve same-day sourcing — and to clarify, when we say same-day sourcing outside of restaurants, this still involves food and beverage sourced from food service for takeout or delivery. At the same time, close to one-quarter of occasions still involve a special trip to the store — a behavior that is difficult to change when consumers are used to getting what they want, when they want it."

Collected at regular intervals annually, The Hartman Group’s Eating Occasions Compass uses an online recall methodology that randomly selects two eating or drinking occasions that a consumer participant has had in the past 24 hours. Respondents report everything they had to eat and drink as well as who was present, where and when the eating occasion took place, how was it sourced and prepared, and what need states are driving that eating occasion. The COVID-19’s Impact on Eating report analyzes data captured during a Spring 2020 wave of fielding of Eating Occasions Compass compared to a Spring 2019 wave of fielding so as to be able to examine changes in eating habits as well as changes in food sourcing and planning, the amount of cooking consumers are engaged in, and key need states that arise throughout the day. The report also includes spotlights on the dayparts most impacted by COVID-19 (specifically, lunch, dinner, and snacking occasions) and use of food service.

Register for the upcoming COVID-19’s Impact on Eating webinar here

Listen to the podcast COVID-19’s Impact on Eating

Download the report: COVID-19’s Impact on Eating