If you’ve been under a rock the last few weeks – and kudos if so – food delivery is exploding, and sure, one could just UberEats a $23 sandwich every day, but how sustainable is that for most? Equally rampant is the demand for grocery delivery; virtual lines are so backed up, chains like Subway and Panera are selling off ingredients as likely both a philanthropic initiative and a desperate attempt to salvage losses.
Despite all the ways we’re trying to feed ourselves right now, CivicScience data still show 73% of the population choosing to prepare food at home a majority of the time. That being said, we’re seeing a ton of volatility in how consumers are preparing meals. Coinciding with more reported stovetop cooking is a subtle boom in frozen entree consumption, with the number of people indicating they “never” eat frozen entrees dropping 9 percentage points during the month of March. What’s to make of the mixed results? Like we saw last week, people are adjusting their diets differently – something to be expected amidst the aforementioned chaos going on in the food service industry right now.Behind all of that, whether or not people truly enjoy cooking hasn’t seen much change in either direction – and it’s probably worth mentioning that among those who say they “love” cooking, active cooking holds the crown by a long-shot, with two-thirds of them preferring the stovetop.
When it came to frozen entrees, the month of March shows some variance among those who like to cook. Fifty-four percent of those who love to cook said they never prepare frozen entrees, but back in January that number was at 59%. In addition, preparing frozen entrees anywhere from 1 to 3 or more times a week saw a slight uptick.But the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t affected every aspect of our relationship with food. Demographically speaking, an affinity for cooking has remained pretty evenly split between genders and income groups. Those who enjoy cooking are also more likely to be parents than non-parents, perhaps finding a love for cooking while needing to provide.There’s also a correlation between a love for cooking and a passion for music. Whether that’s attributable to setting the mood in the kitchen or enjoying an instrument as a hobby remains to be seen, nonetheless an interesting additive to the perspective of the home-cooking consumer.This volatility we’re experiencing is undoubtedly impacting our behaviors around and attitudes towards food – it’s scarcity, cost, nutritional benefits, all of it. While not every aspect of consumer sentiment around food and cooking has changed, the future hinges on the fallout of the pandemic. Understanding the melting pot of consumer decision making – and everything that goes into it – is more important now than it was before. Food is simply one of the ingredients.