Fresh to Frozen
In order to identify changes in human diets during the current pandemic, one must first acknowledge the impact Covid-19 has had on the food industry, and in turn the impact’s twofold nature.
With a large portion of the world population suffering from severe decreases in income, if not the loss of income entirely, the demand for certain goods in the food industry has decreased. Prior to the pandemic, health was a growing concern demonstrated by consumers striving to purchase healthier options. However, the extra expenses that often come with such options has limited the previously established concern. The demand for food has turned from partially fresh to mostly frozen, causing the food industry to alter the general course of supply.
The first of the two previously mentioned folds in regards to the food industry’s reaction to the pandemic reveals this unhealthier dieting. As we experience Covid-19, the food industry can be divided primarily into two parts, “winners” and “losers.” Wanting to leave the house as little as possible, consumers are looking to buy goods that have long shelf life. Due to this, the “winners” during the pandemic are frozen foods and processed foods because of their durability and minimal preparation required to cook. In contrast, goods that don’t fit the “fast and frugal” nature of consumption are seen as “losers.” Fresh and organic foods require too much time to cook and too many grocery trips due to their short shelf life. This causes an overall decrease in the healthiness of human diets.
The second fold reveals an opposite effect. Lower incomes have decreased the amount of money spent in restaurants and for takeaway meals. Home cooked meals have increased as a result, being more affordable and decreasing the risk of consumer contamination. It can be argued that a positive of avoiding restaurants is the simplicity and healthiness of home cooking, even if frozen and processed goods are being used, in comparison to their “fresh” alternatives at some restaurants.
While there are visible dietary differences in the present, as the pandemic is returning in new waves, the expected post-pandemic impact, with changes in how consumers and the food industry function, is a concept which can further alter the food industry and one which we should all be prepared for in the coming years.