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The Covid-19 Pandemic and Food Consumption Patterns

  • Published on February 4, 2022

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, consumer eating patterns and habits have changed. Before the pandemic, most countries in the Nordic-Baltic region had been collecting food consumption data to monitor the region’s health and food safety situation, but during these unusual times, no data on consumer behaviour exists. It’s important to examine changes in food consumption in the Nordic-Baltic region during the pandemic not only to understand the local situation and trends but also global trends and their effect on food supply chains, regional food availability, and food waste. Comparing regional data with those in Asia, the USA, and elsewhere offers the opportunity to see which practices are effective in each region and provides more information to help predict trends in consumer behaviour during the post-pandemic recovery period.

It is no question that the ongoing pandemic has affected consumption and production patters, specifically related to food. Due to lockdowns and more time at home, consumption patterns have shifted as more people are cooking and preparing food at home. With this shift, people have also been demanding different foods which has altered food supply chains and food availability in some areas. This research study looks at specific countries and their food consumption patterns during the pandemic to understand the shift on a global scale.

The countries Latvia, Estonia, Iceland, and Lithuania were examined comparing their consumption patterns before and during the pandemic. Across all countries their research showed that the pandemic significantly increased the frequency of home-cooked meals and that cooking from home has positive impacts on nutrition gained from eating. For this reason, the consumption pattern shift in favor of home cooked meals was a positive change for healthier eating habits and the benefits associated with them. However, consumption patterns also shifted in favor of increasing the number of takeaway and delivery meals. Additionally, in these countries it was common for people to shop often 4-6 times a week, and during the pandemic, this number decreased.

Not only were daily habits shifted during the pandemic, but what people were actually buying and eating changed as well. In Iceland, people were buying more canned, dry, and frozen fruits along with pasta and sweets. But in Latvia, the consumption switched in favor of vegetables, fruit, and meat. On the whole, people were more concerned with maintaining and improving health and wellbeing due to the looming pandemic. 

In conclusion, while food consumption has changed due to the pandemic, there are still issues. For example, though people are more concerned about their health, the pandemic has caused a lack of motivation to put effort in to be healthy and eat healthier foods. 

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