Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2021: ‘cooking is the new commute’

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AUTHOR: Matt Ridout
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The Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2021 has revealed how the affects of the ongoing pandemic are altering our daily rituals, and what that means for retailers, manufacturers and the food industry as a whole as we head into the new year.

Key findings in the report are:

  • Cooking is the new commute, with 74% of those now working at home saying cooking provides a break between their ‘work time’ and ‘home time’
  • Nearly 30% of car-owners have reduced – or plan to reduce – cars in their household, as localism leads the way
  • A quarter of us shopped online for food for the first time this year, and one in 10 of us now shop for food only once a fortnight – with 60% of us saying changes to our shopping habits will stick
  • More than half us us value food more than we did pre-Covid, 70% of us value the role of supermarket workers more than we did, and 55% say our spending habits have changed for good
  • Over half say the pandemic has acted as a ‘reset button’ on our busy lives, with 58% us saying we’ve secretly enjoyed the lack of pressure to go out
  • Meanwhile, winter BBQs, foraging, ‘tornado omelettes’ and spritzers are among the year’s hottest food and drink trends

The Waitrose Food & Drink Report 2021 is based on wide-ranging new OnePoll research of 2000 people across Britain – not just Waitrose shoppers. Research is supported by insights from Waitrose food, drink and retail experts, as well as from Waitrose shoppers. It is backed up with sales data from millions of purchases on Waitrose shops and online from throughout the year.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Nearly three quarters of people want to see more food businesses in the UK express their ongoing support for local British producers, and 61% worry there will be a rise in factory farmed meat coming into the UK if standards are not safeguarded
  • More than half of us have been more carefully planning meals during the pandemic and intend to carry on
  • Nearly half of us have gone entirely cashless during the pandemic and intend to carry on
  • Almost 70% of us feel there’s more of a need to keep up our mental and physical stamina now than before the pandemic
  • Almost 40% of us believe we’ve become more tech-savvy over this year, and half of us took part in regular family catch-ups over lockdown, with 72% saying we’ll carry on
  • Nearly two thirds of us who got involved with our local communities over lockdown plan to continue
  • Almost half (43%) of 25-34 year-old car owning households plan to reduce the number of cars they run
  • Sherry is a surprise retro drinks trend, while many have discovered the fun of foraging

Says James Bailey, Executive Director, Waitrose: “Our daily rituals, our attitudes towards supermarkets and the way we shop have been fundamentally reshaped by the pandemic. These changes are here to stay. The ‘new normal’ that we all spoke about back in the spring isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal.”

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