Consumers have returned to comforting food staples they know and love, including meat and dairy, during the Covid-19 crisis as they cook more home meals.
The number of people eating more meat has doubled from seven per cent to 14 per cent since February, while dairy has seen those increasing consumption leap from five per cent to 12 per cent over the same period, according to research commissioned by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and carried out by YouGov.
Figures also show that a massive 71 per cent of consumers trust farmers and agree they are doing a good job ensuring food production continues during the pandemic.
However, the industry’s push for people to buy British is currently impacting less than a quarter of shoppers, with only 22 per cent saying they would purchase home-grown options if they were more expensive than alternatives.
Christine Watts, Chief Officer for Communications and Market Development at AHDB, said: “The work shows that Britishness is often a secondary factor for consumers. Therefore, industry messages need to go further than the country of origin, towards key points of difference like traceability, sustainability and quality. Only half of consumers said they would proactively seek out British products post-pandemic. However, we have a great story to tell about what we produce in this country and the products for consumers to enjoy.
“What is heartening is that many people are returning to the familiar staples, like meat and dairy, that they know and love. There is more home cooking and baking going on. There is more cooking from scratch, so people are buying the ingredients they need rather than ready-cooked dishes. And, of course, the options for out-of-home have been severely limited, with millions more meals now being eaten at home every week. This means recipe inspiration is key.
“Our #makeit campaign, working with colleagues in Scotland and Wales, is building inspiration around steaks and other high-value beef cuts. Meanwhile, #milkyourmoments is really catching people’s imagination and helping them connect with each other in these unprecedented times.
“All the research points to the fact that people trust and appreciate farmers, perhaps more now than before because of their rugged determination to get food to the supermarket shelves during the current coronavirus crisis.”
Recent figures from AHDB showed an increase in households buying red meat, from 67 per cent in April 2019 to 71 per cent in April 2020.
The research also showed 48 per cent of shoppers are more price conscious or have allocated their shopping budgets differently.
Author of the AHDB report, Susie Stannard, Consumer Insight Manager, said: “There is much positivity in how consumers feel about farming, and a growing acknowledgement of the important role that meat and dairy play in the British diet.
“However, in the face of an impending recession, factors such as provenance, environment and welfare temporarily take a back seat to price and availability.
“Much valuable work has already been done but it is important that the industry continues to make demonstrable progress in areas such as welfare and the environment, alongside the very clear immediate focus on how best to continue to deliver safe, affordable and sustainable food.”