New York, NY – Americans ordered to stay at home during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic are being forced to find new ways to fulfill their daily responsibilities and occupy their free time.
A new study released today offers a glimpse at how the coronavirus crisis is impacting adult American consumers’ food preferences and behaviors, as well as the potential for these new habits to result in lasting change.
Since 2003, HUNTER, a leading food and beverage public relations and marketing communications consultancy, has commissioned an annual Food News Study to identify the top food news stories according to the opinions of Americans, as well as the impact of these stories on their behavior and top sources for information about food, recipes, and nutrition.
For this Hunter Food Study Special Report: America Gets Cooking, 1,005 American adults were surveyed online and asked to compare their cooking and eating habits now vs. prior to COVID-19 Coronavirus, and share resulting changes in their cooking confidence and enjoyment, ingredients, recipe usage, food waste, and more.
Top findings include:
With Home Cooking and Baking on the Rise, Confidence in the Kitchen and the Joy in Cooking Soar
The Hunter Food Study Special Report: America Gets Cooking confirms statistically that Americans are cooking and baking more now, with over half of consumers reporting they are cooking more (54%), and almost as many baking more (46%). While use of mail-ordered prepared meals and meal kits (22%) and ordering takeout and delivery (30%) are also increasing among some consumers, this is being offset by decreases in these behaviors by others (38% and 28%, respectively). A total of three-quarters (75%) of all American adults who are cooking more report that they are more confident in the kitchen (50%) or learning more about cooking and starting to build more confidence (26%). Not merely a chore, a total of 73% are enjoying it more (35%) or as much as they did before (38%).
Americans Become More Adventurous and Creative in the Kitchen
Many of those surveyed have discovered new ingredients (38%) and new brands (45%) and are rediscovering ingredients they have not used in a long time (24%). Meanwhile, the consumers who claimed to be cooking more often are embracing these new habits even more enthusiastically (44%, 50% and 28%, respectively). Creativity abounds, with roughly one-third (34%) of all adults searching for more recipes and meal prepping (31%). Top recipes consumers are searching for are simple, practical meal solutions (61%) and ways to use up current ingredients (60%), although almost half of consumers are also looking for ways to cook healthier (47%) and inspiration to try new foods (45%). More than one-third (35%) of recipe users are searching for a cooking project and inspiration to learn new techniques.
Households Are Wasting Less Food with Help From Recipes Designed to Use Ingredients On Hand
The Hunter Food Study Special Report: America Gets Cooking found that 57% of Americans are wasting less food than before the coronavirus crisis, with 60% of all adults polled reporting that they are looking for recipes to use the ingredients they have on hand in their pantry or refrigerator. And where are they finding these recipes? Top sources include websites (66%), social media (58%), and family and friends (52%), with Facebook leading the pack as the preferred social platform for recipes, for all but Gen Z.
A Tale of Two Waistlines? Americans Split on Eating Healthier and Eating More Indulgent and Comfort Foods
Almost identical numbers of Americans are reporting that they are eating healthier foods (39%) as those turning more to indulgent and comfort foods (40%). Alcohol beverage consumption remains relatively the same, with equal portions of consumers drinking more wine/beer/spirits (29%) as drinking less (25%), and the majority holding steady (46%) drinking the same amount as they were before the coronavirus crisis. Those drinking more profile to 25-34 (33%) and in higher-income households (38% in HH with an income of $100K). Meanwhile snacking throughout the day is at an all-time high, especially in households with children, with half (50%) reporting they are snacking more than before.
The New Normal: Cooking Practices Impacted Long Term
Importantly, among the Americans who are cooking more, more than half (51%) reported that they will continue to do so when the coronavirus crisis comes to an end. Top motivators include: cooking at home more often saves money (58%), cooking helps them to eat healthier (52%), trying new recipes (50%), and they find cooking relaxing (50%).
“The study results confirm many of our suspicions and certainly corroborate many of the sales trends we are seeing in the marketplace,” states Heddy DeMaria, chief insights officer at HUNTER. “We have long regarded Americans as consummate optimists. When the going gets tough, they find a way to prevail and in this case, they are choosing to redirect their energy and creativity to the kitchen, not only finding joy in the process of cooking, but also in the benefits that come from it.”
For the full Hunter Food Study Special Report: America Gets Cooking and additional information about the annual Hunter Food News Study, visit www.hunterpr.com/news.
Founded in 1989, HUNTER is an award-winning consumer marketing communications firm with primary offices in New York and London and a footprint across North America. Beginning with research-driven consumer insights, HUNTER executes strategic, integrated programs that build brand equity, increase engagement, and drive measurable business results for consumer products and services.
The 120-person firm employs a powerful blend of marketing solutions including strategic planning, social and digital media, talent and influencer engagement, media relations, experiential, multicultural, and content creation and distribution for all platforms and channels to earn consumer attention on behalf of some of the world’s best known and most beloved brands. The agency is a member of MDC Partners Inc. (NASDAQ: MDCA; TSX: MDZ.A).
About the Study
The Hunter Food Study Special Report: America Gets Cooking provides a comparative perspective on consumers’ meal preparation and consumption behaviors and attitudes now versus prior to the coronavirus pandemic. HUNTER utilized the national panel and insight platform, SUZY for this study. The study surveyed 1,005 Americans ages 18-73 years old via an online survey. The survey was fielded on April 2, 2020 to a national demographically and geographically-balanced sample, evenly split between males and females.