During 2020, nearly all facets of consumers’ lives changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Research and Insights team at DFW studied these changes both to understand the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior in the year that was, but also to help our industry plan for long-term, sustained shifts that may result in the years to come.
For example, our research shows that the percentage of Americans preparing at least 90% of their meals at home surged from 24% before the pandemic, to 59% during the initial stages of the crisis when many restaurants closed. Even now that some restaurants have begun reopening, the percentage of Americans preparing nearly all their meals at home remains twice as high (47%) as it was pre-COVID.
And more often, shoppers are sourcing ingredients for their home-prepared meals via online shopping. In fact, online grocery shopping grew as much in the first quarter of 2020 as the last three years combined. And this is likely a permanent shift as 68% of new online grocery shoppers plan to continue shopping for groceries online in the future.
Moving ahead into a new year, we expect several other trends to drive consumer behavior. First, shoppers continue to seek out products that offer nutrition and holistic well-being. The coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the importance of food and beverages that support health, which is an area that dairy has a strong advantage. Second, the pandemic also amplified consumers’ desire to support their local communities by buying from local businesses. Nearly all (93%) of Wisconsinites recognize that buying dairy supports the local economy. Finally, consumers will continue to demand sustainability from the products they buy, including dairy. More than half (59%) of Americans say it’s important that the food products they consume are produced sustainably.
To grow demand for Wisconsin dairy, dairy farmers and processors must be open in addressing each of these pillars: good for me, good for my community, good for my planet. Being transparent about these elements will continue to build consumer’s trust, foster their love of dairy and sustain markets for Wisconsin milk in 2021 and beyond.
Chief Operating Officer
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin