COVID and its effect on the grocery retail shopper

By the end of the first week in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a fact of everyday life for 44 weeks.  As a result ,what we eat, our lifestyle and work life has changed enormously.  Senior Insight Manager Alex, has been tracking how this has affected grocery consumer behaviour.

As we know, this period has been an exceedingly tough time for the hospitality industry, with the value of out-of-home consumption down almost £8bn year on year¹. Even during August’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, dining-out meal occasions Monday-Wednesday were down 11% vs. last year¹.

Eat at home growth

However with the main bulk of our business in the retail sector, we have seen some positives trends.

Covid eating habits

The shift to eating at-home has had a significant and positive impact on UK Grocery retail and this has resulted in total grocery & non-food sales up £8.2bn (+7.5%)² compared to 2019.

  • There are now 26% more food and drink occasions in the home
  • Lunchtime eating up 74%
  • Evening meals seeing a 17% increase³

We’ve also seen the effect of the pandemic on previously cautious online shoppers. This channel has has now grown its share of total retailer value from 8% to 13%³.

With consumers spending less time out of the house, or not working in the office another emerging shopper pattern has been bigger, but less frequent shopping trips.  Whilst volume per trip has grown by 19.5% year on year, frequency has declined by almost 10%⁴.

So what products are people eating at home?

Continental meats
The continental meats category has been well placed to serve a variety of current consumer needs: the rise of scratch cooking; feeding the family and bringing the restaurant experience in-home. Overall this has resulted in a growth of 22.8% in the latest 12 weeks.

72% of people have reported an increase in their scratch cooking⁵, which has led to more demand for and growth in purchase of ingredient-type products. Our chorizo rings have seen double digit growth in all retailers.  Then there are versatile family favourites like frankfurters and more premium restaurant-style selection platters – both of which have seen value growth of around +20%⁴.

Cooking from scratch ingredients

Olives & antipasti

With chilled olives & antipasti tapping into the restaurant experience consumers have indulged here with with growth now up 11.8%⁶.

Olives, antipasti and tomatoes


Within the chilled meat free category  (like continental meats), the fastest growth is in ingredient-type products which have grown at almost 40% in the latest 12 weeks⁴.  This is good news for the Vivera range which boasts mince, shawarma kebab and bacon pieces – amongst other delicious meat replacements.

Vivera plant-based ingredients

We can see there’s naturally a big increase in those cooking at home and getting creative in the kitchen.  Both our Squeaky Bean and also our Vadasz brands are full of ideas to cook using our plant-based products so it’s worth giving their instagram feeds a look (links on their names).

So that’s just a quick round-up on how the pandemic has affected the retail grocery market – specifically in our categories.

In the meantime, if you’d be interested in more of our category insights, get in touch with us via our contact page

Article sources:

¹ Kantar FMCG & Out of Home Panel (incl. takeaways)
² IRI Retailer Advantage to 12th Dec 20
³ Kantar Usage Panel to 9th Aug 20
⁴ Kantar WPO 52 & 12 weeks to 29th Nov 20
⁵ IGD, Sept 20
⁶ Winterbotham Darby estimate 13 weeks to 31st Oct 20

January 5, 2021

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We first bought chorizo to the UK in 1990 and it's still so popular 31 years later! Whatever the weather this Spanish favourite is amazing in a range of dishes. It certainly doesn't disappoint in this delicious potato and chorizo hash with some delicious runny eggs nestled on the top. Breakfast or lunch, you decide. What's your favourite chorizo dish? ...

Although nothing compares to seeing photographs hanging in a gallery , this 'virtual' exhibition of the 2021 @foodphotoaward is a close second. It gives a taster of what is to come in November when an exhibition of this year's finalists goes live at @royalphotographicsociety. Click on the link in our bio and take a wander round - not forgetting to check out Winterbotham Darby Food For Sale, obviously. ...

If you're in this weekend (and let's face it - most of us are) then why take a foodie trip with @marksandspencer's Italian night family dine in. Call us biased but we love the 'Nduja Meatballs with Pappardelle which is a dish in the deal. *whispers* It might be something to do with the fact that the 'nduja is one of our favourite products. And that we supply it through our foodservice team. But, despite our bias it really is a star in our range of Italian continental products and that's what we're about - delivering fresh and flavourful products. ...

🏆 Congrats to @smithfoto59 🏆 - winner of our Food For Sale category at last night's @foodphotoaward with his image Street Vendor. 📸 A gorgeous picture with beautiful tones. We can't but marvel at the ingenuity of the woman's stall made out of a pram - perfect for mobile sales.
We love this category as it's so close to our hearts (being in the business of selling food ourselves) and echoes our passion for delivering happiness through food.
To see all of the finalist images across the awards click the link in our bio ☝️

Delighted, once again to be part of the @foodphotoaward and to sponsor the Food For Sale category. Good luck to all the shortlisted photographers and filmmakers. We'll be watching with our fingers crossed for you all later

It’s finally here!
Join us this evening 20:00BST on @youtube to celebrate the @foodphotoaward Awards hosted by @fred_sirieix
Reposted from @foodphotoaward

We've been friends with Spanish continental meats since 1992 when we first introduced them to the UK market. They've gone from strength to strength becoming a firm favourite with many shoppers. Today it's a brunch of dreams featuring Spanish chistorra, tomatoes, cubed potatoes and eggs. One pan, MAXIMUM flavour and minimal washing up. What's your brunch favourite? ...

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We understand consumers and we know that on shelf appeal and pack stand-out is so important. After research and trial, our @foodsunearthed brand have re-designed their packs using stronger, eye catching use of colour and a disruptive use of pattern (we love that nod to the Med too). Look out for new olive packs in @waitrose and @ocadouk. What's your favourite? ...

It's might be #BritishPieWeek but we think it's perfectly acceptable to add a little continental twist. Our pancetta, either smoked or unsmoked, is great to add to add flavour. Just like in this chicken & mushroom pie. The ultimate in comfort, made with authentic ingredients. We deliver happiness through food. What's your favourite pie? ...

Today is National Pig Day. Our welfare journey began in 2000 & since then we've been improving the welfare of pigs by working with @CIWF

We're committed to the following: + considerably more space for each pig + larger breeding facilities for each sow + free farrowing and +no pigs subjected to tail docking or teeth clipping.

These commitments have led to us, along with some of closest farming partners, to win awards and achieve what was considered 'impossible' in Europe. We thank them all for their dedication and pledge to continue the work with them.

What does the future of sustainable pig farming look like? Why not join our webinar on Fri 26th March (09.45 - 12.00 GMT) and find out. We’ll set the scene on the future for food, sustainability and livestock, share some case studies, but also talk about how we can validate the data. Plus we’ll run a panel discussion to wrap things up. 🐷 🐖

The line-up includes speakers from Food Ethics Council, University of Leeds and Authenticate, as well as a panel discussion hosted by CIEL Livestock. Click the link in our bio to register. ⬆️

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