Covid-19 Resource Center

Understand how consumers are responding.

Online Trends

Published June 10th 2020

Food and Drink: How Eating and Drinking Habits Have Changed

If you’ve found yourself reaching for the snack cupboard, skipping meals, or drinking more coffee and caipirinhas over the last few months, you are not alone.

With the global health crisis causing disruption to many people’s routines, everyday habits have gone out the window.

Money, eating, drinking, shopping, and exercising activities have changed for almost everyone, regardless of their location or background.

In a recent Brandwatch survey, we found that this is especially true for people in the UK.

In comparison to respondents in other countries in Europe, Brits were more likely to say the pandemic had affected their lifestyles in nearly every category we asked about.

Using Brandwatch Qriously to survey 5,000 people across Europe via their smartphones and tablets, we explored how the pandemic has changed the choices we’re making as consumers.

We asked: During the pandemic, have you changed the way you do the following things?

In this blog, we’ll focus on eating and drinking habits. But you can view the full report on how perceptions of travel, holidays, exercise, spending, and shopping habits have changed in each country here:

So, without further ado, what’s cookin’?

New eating habits

Our relationships with food have gone through a lot over the last few months. Whether it’s because of bare shelves in shops, closed restaurants, attempts to stay healthy, disrupted schedules, or more free time to fill, many people’s diets have changed.

One third of respondents across all the countries we surveyed said the pandemic has changed the way they eat.

We asked: How have your eating habits changed?

Top insights about new eating habits in Europe

  • People in the UK and Germany are snacking far more than in other countries, and they are also the most likely to avoid cooking and instead order takeaway.
  • Many survey respondents across Europe reported they are eating more fruit and vegetables, indicating that, for some, the lockdown has been an opportunity to improve their diet and health (an issue that’s top of mind for many people right now).
  • In Spain, people are three times more likely to be eating more than they are less. Meanwhile, 37% of respondents say their exercise habits have changed, and the majority of those say they’re exercising less. There could be a great opportunity here to share home-friendly exercise content and products.
  • The picture is mixed in France, with significant numbers of respondents saying they’re cooking more but also plenty of people saying they’re eating less. This could indicate a nation on a health-kick, loss of appetite due to stress, difficulty sourcing products, or personal financial pressures.

By doing further research into the different groups of people sharing their preferences, brands can work out how to best serve consumer needs, spot emerging trends, and pursue new growth opportunities. For example, here’s how Brandwatch worked with The Good Food Institute to understand consumer perceptions around the plant-based meat industry and support product innovation.

New drinking habits

Across the countries surveyed, an average of around one in five people said the pandemic has changed their drinking habits. Respondents in the UK over-indexed for this behavioral change, with one in three people reporting a shift.

We asked the people whose drinking habits have changed what they’re doing differently.

We asked: How have your drinking habits changed?

Top insights about new drinking habits in Europe

  • Alcohol consumption is up across Europe, with many respondents branching out from their usual choice of tipple to try new alcoholic drinks.
  • Of the countries surveyed, consumers in Spain are the most likely to be drinking less alcohol or to have gone teetotal.
  • On average, one third of respondents say they’re drinking more caffeine, which could create new audiences for retailers and CPG businesses in this category. For example, those selling caffeinated drinks, accessories for coffee-making rituals, or complementary snacks may yet reap reward from targeting the right consumers. Those in France, Italy, and the UK are especially big fans of caffeinated drinks at the moment.

As lockdowns begin to ease across Europe and the hospitality industry starts to find its feet, restaurants and bars can rest assured that consumer appetite to go out for food and drinks remains strong.

Nearly half of all respondents placed “socializing at bars and restaurants” as a top priority post-lockdown, with people in Germany and the UK showing the strongest desire to eat and drink out over other pastimes.

However, businesses will need to address consumers’ concerns about safety and cater to their new found needs before footfall gets anywhere near back to normal.

Watch this video to learn more about how Brandwatch Qriously can shed light on new consumer priorities, needs, and wants:

Share this post
Search the blog
Covid-19 Resource Center

Get access to free expert-built dashboards, daily email bulletins, unique reports and more to help you understand how consumer are responding.

Access insights
Free report

New candid feedback from UK consumers

Get the full UK Qriously Report to discover how the pandemic has changed consumers’ attitudes toward travel, holidays, shopping, spending, exercise, and more.

Get the full report

We value your privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience and give you personalized content. Do you agree to our cookie policy?

More info.

By using our site you agree to our use of cookies

Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.