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Will breakfast be a key driver for the post-Covid economy?



It’s time to find out what’s been happening to our food habits recently


It’s a crazy title isn’t it? However, there are some real changes taking place in the way we eat and prepare food and breakfast, for one, has staged a comeback.Last week, in a LinkedIn article I mentioned home working and how people are not keen to reinstate long commute times when they return to the office. Not only this but the thing we have had more of from March to May has been time; time to think, relax, be with family, to cook, garden, create and mend. These are all things that previously fell away in the rush and tear of twenty first century living.



One thing to emerge from all this is breakfast


You may think that sitting down with toast, juice and cereal is nothing special, but the juice concentrate industry has seen an uptick of 20% of late; that’s extraordinary growth. This is solely down to people having breakfast at home – amazing really. Personally, I have enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy this meal again. When I was commuting, I would leave the house at 6.30am with little more than a quick coffee. Quite often breakfast nutrition was abandoned, and I lost out on an important meal. Yes, I know the fasting brigade would disapprove but most people would welcome the opportunity to start the day by sitting together and sharing a well-crafted breakfast. It’s such a versatile meal after all, from a full English to Bircher oats, to kippers, omelette, kedgeree, cereal, toast, croissants and all points between.


I’m not alone in wondering whether our eating habits in general have changed during the pandemic.


The James Hutton Institute based in Dundee has just begun researching just that question. It’s not just what we are doing in the UK but the global impact that requires unpicking. In fact, they are very keen to understand our habits and relationship with food and are asking people to complete a questionnaire. They want to discover what we have all been eating, whether we have changed our cooking habits and also has the lockdown affected where and how we buy.


It’s interesting to see that supermarkets have experienced extraordinary growth


Yet looking at the long snaking queues I think many people are being put off but the one stop shop. Bearing in mind that there’s very little to do right now it makes sense to make every purchase a bit more of an experience. After all, what this pandemic has taught us is to be mindful. Social media posts demonstrate people are supporting local producers and retailers and I feel certain there will be a resurgence of grass root producers and eating venues. The pop up outdoor kitchen may well surge in popularity; it’s much easier to police two metre distancing in a queue than in a restaurant.



Another massive thing on the agenda is our attitude to waste.


Bearing in mind the faff and hassle of shopping we have cut our visits to an absolute minimum. One way we have stretched the time between shops is to stop wasting food. Are we the only ones? I doubt it and the study is also keen to find out if we are being more sustainable in our food purchasing and eating habits. Food systems, logistics, sustainability and the thorny issue of food poverty are all under the spotlight and will affect food policy in the future.


Professor Colin Campbell, the Institute’s Chief Executive, stated that by understanding changes happening right now we will be able to help design food systems and value chains that are both socially just and environmentally sustainable.


These are important issues and it will be fascinating what the survey will reveal. Access the survey at www.food-covid-19.org.