Like the health impact of the virus, this report finds that our experiences of food have diverged widely during the pandemic. While some have seen their eating habits improve, and potentially made lifelong improvements to their diets, others have faced acute levels of food insecurity during the pandemic.
These extremely varied experiences have led to important questions for the future of food. As part of Renew Normal: The People’s Commission on Life After Covid-19, we have worked with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to better understand the answers to these questions. This report focuses on people’s experiences with food during the pandemic – across multiple lockdowns – and the public’s preferences for the future of the food system.
The report’s findings include:
- There has been an increase in multiple forms of food insecurity including physical availability and financial access.
- Four in ten (40%) people have helped others by shopping for food for someone who was self-isolating.
- There is strong public support for a child’s right to healthy food
- The public think the Government should continue to provide the additional support it offered during the pandemic – 59% support children getting free school meals during the holiday after the pandemic
- There has been a complex shift in people’s diets during Covid-19, with more home cooking, more healthy meals, but also more unhealthy snacking. Those who have cooked more or eaten healthier main meals tend to expect this change to continue.
- The public are broadly in favour of government intervention to encourage healthy eating – particularly after the pandemic – with 71% thinking the government should be doing a “great deal” or a “fair amount” to encourage people to eat more healthily.
- 78% of people support the UK keeping its current food quality standards, even if food is more expensive and less competitive in the global market.