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Consumers are getting savvier in the kitchen and wasting less food, research by the Food Standards Agency shows. The FSA’s Covid-19 Consumer Tracker found that 35% of respondents threw away food less often, while just 8% said they had wasted more food than usual.
Meanwhile, the number of people who reported eating food that had gone past its use-by date varied by food type, ranging from 17% for smoked fish to 36% for bagged salads.
With many consumers spending more time at home, the FSA found that people were buying fewer takeaways compared to pre-lockdown levels, and 39% were cooking from scratch more often. Another 26% said they were eating healthier meals, while families with children reported they were eating together more often (44%).
The researchers also found a distinct move towards buying locally, with 35% of consumers saying they had bought local food more often. In particular, shoppers were shifting towards purchasing from farm shops and local veg box schemes.
Finances remain a worry for a “significant minority of the population” when it comes to buying food, the FSA says. Despite this, over April and May, the proportion of those worried about food availability dropped from 31% to 21%, while concerns around affordability dropped from 28% to 23%.
The number of people who skipped meals or cut down on meal sizes because they didn’t have enough money remained stable between April and May, and the number of people who used emergency food providers to access food also remained stable.
“The Covid-19 Consumer Tracker is helping us understand people’s food concerns during these difficult times. This knowledge has already helped to inform the work of the Ministerial Taskforce on Vulnerabilities and will continue to do so,” said Heather Hancock, Chair at the Food Standards Agency.
While food affordability remains a significant concern, for speciality food shops there is a reason to be cheerful as consumers put their trust in local suppliers and invest more time and energy into mealtime.