Research shows changing food habits amid lockdown

A newly-released YouGov survey has highlighted a number of social and environmental changes that people in the UK are seeing as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

The survey was commissioned by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC), together with food charity The Food Foundation.

Cleaner air, increased social bonds and valuing food more are among the changes people reported. Only 9% of people want a total return to normal after lockdown.

The poll highlighted significant changes to our relationship with food, including:

  • 42% say the outbreak has changed how they value food, and one in ten have shared something like food or shopping with a neighbour for the first time; and
  • more than 19 million of us (38%) say they are cooking more from scratch and 17 million are throwing away less food (33%). 6%, or 3 million people, have used a veg box scheme or ordered food from a local farm for the very first time.

See the data visualisation.

Professor Tom MacMillan from the Royal Agricultural University, research lead for the FFCC, said: “These data show there is a real appetite for change, and for the nation to learn from this crisis. People are trying new things and noticing differences, at home, in their work and in communities.

“This is really apparent when it comes to food, farming and the countryside, the issues the Commission is focused on, but clear in other areas too.

"Alongside the emergency response, it is important to keep track of these changes in what we’re doing and our collective mood, to help shape the kind of country we want to be, including the way want to feed ourselves, when we recover from this pandemic.”

The FFCC commissioned the poll as part of its work to shape a new vision and an action plan for more sustainable food and farming, land use and the rural economy. It follows on from research funded by FFCC and the Food Foundation, released over Easter, which shows a sharp rise in food insecurity during lockdown.  

The RAU recently launched the BSc (Hons) Environment, Food and Society course providing the opportunity to understand the challenges of major global issues and help contribute to solutions. Find out more and about other available undergraduate and postgraduate courses.