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The Covid-19 Consumer Tracker

Ipsos Mori and the Food Standards Agency carried out research in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to monitor the experience and behaviours of consumers when it comes to key food risks during the pandemic.
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Background

The Food Standards Agency commissioned Ipsos MORI to develop its evidence base on issues affecting consumers and businesses in order to inform its Covid-19 response in the short to medium term. 

The research is based on monthly surveys which aim to understand shifts in food consumption and purchasing behaviours, for instance, increased online shopping or use of takeaways. The research also considers potential new food safety risks as well as reported adherence to FSA food hygiene guidelines. Furthermore, the survey explores the impact of concerns or experience of food unavailability, health restrictions and household food insecurity on consumer food safety behaviours 

Subsequent waves of research will run during June and July 2020 and results will be published in due course. 

Research project

Interviews for Wave 1 were conducted online via Ipsos Mori’s i:Omnibus from 10-13 April 2020 and Wave 2 fieldwork took place online from 8-12 May 2020.  Ipsos MORI surveyed a representative sample of 2,039 adults in Wave 1 (2,040 adults in Wave 2) aged 16-75 living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Please note that i:Omnibus does not allow  for detailed analysis by ethnicity. 

The data was weighted to best reflect the demographic profile of the adult population sampled.    

The questionnaire was expanded in Wave 2 to incorporate new areas of interest. Accordingly, time trends are not currently available for all measures. 

Key findings 

The research shows: 

  • a move towards more ‘local’ food purchasing behaviour (35% said they had done so more often, 11% less often) 
  • people reported wasting or throwing away food less often (35% reported they had done so less often, 8% less often) 
  • the number of people who have skipped meals or cut down on meal sizes due to not having enough money remained stable between April (18%) and May (16%) 
  • the numbers of people reporting eating food that had gone past its use-by date varied by food type, ranging from 17% for smoked fish to 36% for bagged salads 
  • people are buying fewer take-aways overall when compared to before lockdown 
  • purchasing from sources such as vendors on Facebook Marketplace (7% April, 8% May) and food-sharing apps (8% April, 9% May) remained stable 

Report and data 

Data tables are available for each Wave on our open data catalogue. You will also find guidance on how to use the data tables. We hope to be able to upload our SPSS datasets on to the open data catalogue shortly.  

 

Research report