COVID-19 changed how consumers purchased meat, poultry

The COVID-19 global pandemic dramatically affected consumer behavior when it came to shopping for food.

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The COVID-19 global pandemic dramatically affected consumer behavior when it came to shopping for food, Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, FMI – The Food Industry Association, said October 1 during a Farm Journal Foundation University Speaker Series event.

“In fact, our research has demonstrated that 90% of consumers surveyed said that COVID-19 made them modify at least one aspect of their grocery shopping,” Sarasin shared.

Changes to who is shopping

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many households chose to designate a single member as the shopper. Previously, over 90% of American consumers said they played a role in purchasing groceries.

“After the pandemic began, 36% of those surveyed indicated that they’d made some sort of COVID-19 related change in who grocery shopped in their household. Obviously, self-shoppers can’t make this change because they are only shopping for themselves, so we know that this 36% must be applied to the 70% of co-shoppers. This means that over half of the co-shoppers modified who’s doing their grocery shopping during COVID-19,” Sarasin explained.

Online shopping accelerates

Online grocery shopping was already a growing trend before COVID-19 emerged, but the pandemic accelerated interest.

“As a portion of all grocery shopping in 2019, online shopping accounted for about 10.5%. In February 2020, online shopping represented 14% of all grocery shopping. In the April/May time period, that number skyrocketed to 27.9%,” Sarasin said. “What we thought would happen over the next five years actually happened in less than five months.”

In conclusion, Sarasin praised the food supply chain’s actions throughout COVID-19, saying “this pandemic has highlighted the importance of food production for many people. It’s not perfect and we have miles to go before we sleep trying to improve it and make it a better place to be. But, at the height of this pandemic, it didn’t break and I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this industry.”

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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