A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re starting to see the longer term effects on consumer consumption behaviours and nutrition. With more than 2.4 million Canadians working from home by late 2020, Canadians began to re-prioritize meals, something that has been on the decline for over a decade, in favour of eating several small snacks throughout the day.
These findings were reported in Ipsos’s FIVE consumption tracking study, which has sought to define the “snacking universe” through self-reported eating and drinking behaviour from 24,000 individuals aged two and above since 2013. According to Ipsos, 2020 saw a “softening” of Canadians’ snacking behaviours. Specifically, when comparing data from pre-pandemic (2019) and early pandemic days, Canadians have shifted behaviours towards square meals, rather than continuous snacking throughout the day.
The study also found a rise in the following behaviours: daytime snacking, Canadians’ use of the pantry and emotional food needs. Increased at-home daytime snacking involves more fresh produce, especially when compared to pre-pandemic behaviours. Likewise, demand for pantry staple snacks, like peanuts and peanut butter, have remained strong with two-thirds of Canadian families reporting a desire to “pantry load” even after lockdowns and stay-at-home orders end. Lastly, Canadians have moved beyond snacking for nutrients and satiety, but for emotional wellbeing as well. Digestion and immune support were identified as some reasons for healthier snacking. Packed with immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, vitamin B6 and folate, peanuts and peanut butter are meeting Canadians’ snacking demands more than ever before while maintaining their “pantry staple” status.