When it comes to meals, cooking, eating behaviors and our use of restaurants, a new Hartman Group report finds that the pandemic has shifted many aspects of food and beverage consumption.

Shifting Food Habits and Routines Cover

A new report prepared by Hartman Retainer Services, Shifting Food Habits & Routines: 2021 Eating Occasions, explores the context, needs and behaviors associated with eating and drinking occasions and the impact of the pandemic on such habits when compared to pre-pandemic conditions.

Utilizing The Hartman Group’s proprietary Eating Occasions Compass database, Shifting Food Habits & Routines explores American eating and drinking occasions in 2021 compared to data from both 2020 and 2019. The report provides Hartman analysts’ perspectives and highlights opportunities for food retailers, CPG food and beverage manufacturers and restaurant operators to connect to changes occurring in American food culture.

Shifting Food Habits & Routines finds that in late 2021 some aspects of eating normalized while others continued to be impacted by COVID-19 as consumers adjusted to new routines and habits or settled into old ones. As of late 2021, concern over COVID-19 remained high, leading many consumers to take precautions, adjusting both sourcing and eating routines to minimize risk. Remote work also continued to impact consumers’ eating habits. At the same time, many consumers resumed life as “normal,” which includes activities such as dining out at restaurants or using takeout/delivery services.

Three highlights from the report include:

  • Participation in eating occasions across the day has shifted, likely due to pandemic-associated changes in routines (Figure 1).

 Figure 1: Eating Occasions by Daypart (Daily Prevalence, 2019-2021) 
Source: Shifting Food Habits & Routines: 2021 Eating Occasions Report, The Hartman Group, Inc.

Eating Changes Across the Day ^ Eating Changes 2022 Report

  • A greater amount of cooking preparation is involved when consumers choose to cook in 2021 compared to previous years.
  • Restaurant-sourced eating occasions (including takeout/delivery) exceed even pre-pandemic levels.

Other topics analyzed in the report include:

  • Key observations on the impact of the pandemic on eating occasions
  • At-home and away-from-home eating
  • The social context of eating
  • Leftovers consumption and the role of restaurants
  • Trading up for delicious, premium flavor experiences
  • Key takeaways and implications for food retailers, CPG food and beverage manufacturers and restaurant operators

Download a copy of the Shifting Food Habits & Routines 2021 Eating Occasions report here.

Data in the Shifting Food Habits & Routines 2021 Eating Occasions report is derived from the Hartman Compass database, which analyzes food and beverage and meal dayparts, location, social composition and need states as well as items consumed and broadly when and where items were acquired. Hartman Retainer Services is a customized subscription service that provides access to all of The Hartman Group’s non-proprietary reports and publications plus access to our analytics team for consultations. Through this partnership, we connect you to a deep well of data, insights and strategy.

More information about Hartman Group capabilities and services is available here.