Cooking at home to remain popular in 2021

4 Feb 2021

Nine months after the world found itself contending with the coronavirus, consumers have adapted to many of the restrictions and demands necessitated for safety. However, as vaccine rollouts slowly inch forward, manufacturers have begun to wonder which of these trends that were in direct response to a pandemic environment will linger and which will dissipate.

Consumer market research firm Hunter found that cooking from home will remain a staple of consumers’ everyday lives with 71% saying they will continue to do so after the pandemic ends due to its ability to help consumers save money (67%), eat healthier (56%) and feel good (56%). Plus, the research found that cooking continues to spark joy with 81% of survey respondents claiming that they are cooking more because they find enjoyment in cooking.

Cooking at home to remain popular in 2021

However, other trends are moderating. Despite other industry reports finding that the importance of sustainability for consumers has increased over the course of the pandemic, Hunter found that food waste is becoming more prevalent. When the firm first conducted its study on how the pandemic has affected consumer consumption habits, it found that 58% of households were reducing their food waste in April. By December, that number had slipped to 42%.

Another trend that is moderating is consumers’ affinity for indulgent foods. While relying on food for solace and comfort was the case for the majority of consumers in April when only 42% said they were following their normal, pre-pandemic diets, that number dropped steadily over the year with 56% of consumers saying they have returned to their normal eating habits by December. A major exception to this shift is in single member households where Hunter found the greatest increase in snacking, drinking alcoholic beverages and gaining the most weight.

This study follows up on Hunter’s original study from April where the consumer market research company looked to gain perspective on consumers' meal preparation and consumption behaviors and attitudes. Its most recent findings are supported by other industry experts that have shown that indulgence is moderating and cooking at home remains a popular activity with people as they progressively gain skills and confidence in the kitchen.

Yet there are rumblings that consumers may eventually tire of feeding themselves from their own kitchens. A report by the sales and marketing agency Acosta found that 25% of people are tired of having to cook more frequently. Hunter’s new data indicates that foodservice is once again gaining the ground it lost. Now, one in five people is enjoying to-go food more than they did prior to COVID-19, an 8% increase over the number eating takeout at the onset of the pandemic.

Despite the growing presence of food service, manufacturers remain relatively optimistic about the long term outlook for their at-home food sales, particularly in snacking. The Hunter report supports these confident projections by making the argument that the future of CPG will largely need to support a consumer base whose interest in cooking at home is far from waning.

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