Pandemic changed the way we buy our food, indicates new research
- Researchers from the University of Connecticut found food-insecure individuals did not increase their spending on food
- Food spending did not increase despite fewer trips to grocery store
- Resource scarcity and perceived risk aversion affected food-buying behaviour
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every aspect of regular life. It was changed the way we travel, the way we interact and the way we work.
Now, new research indicates that the pandemic has also changed the way people buy their food.
As an essential business, grocery stores remained open and thrived throughout the pandemic. However, this increasing prosperity did not translate to a sufficient and continuous food supply for many.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that on average, people went to grocery stores less and spent more during the pandemic.
A team of researchers led by Professor Ran Xu of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources recently published a paper in the journal Public Health that evaluated how perceived risk aversion, resource scarcity and consumers’ food security status affected food buying behaviours in the United States.
The team found that just like food-secure individuals, food in-secure individuals made fewer grocery shopping trips due to concerns over the pandemic. But, unlike food-secure individuals, they did not increase their spending per trip.
Conducted in May 2020, the study focussed on food-insecure individuals battling financial difficulties in buying food. Food security was measured along two parameters in accordance with the US Department of Agriculture’s longer food insecurity survey.
The researchers evaluated participants’ food shopping behaviours such as visits to stores, frequency of trips and average food expense. They compared these measures with their shopping experience before the pandemic.
A total of 2,500 respondents from around the US were surveyed for the research. Food-secure individuals tended to spend more per trip. But food-insecure individuals could not prepare in the same way owing to constraints on their resources.