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FMI: food’s link to health reinforced by COVID-19

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The pandemic has altered consumers’ relationship with food in ways that are likely to outlast the public health emergency, according to the latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report from FMI.

FMI has tracked the grocery shopping habits of U.S. consumers for four decades through its annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report. The 2021 edition, prepared in partnership with the Hartman Group, details shifts in the ways consumers purchase and prepare food, and explores the implications for the food retail sector.

“Throughout this past year, American grocery consumers have developed a deeper relationship with their kitchens, increased their healthy eating consciousness, and have learned new ways to shop,” says Leslie Sarasin, FMI’s president and chief executive officer. “We see shoppers engaging in more stock-up trips to support their at-home cooking, exercising new online shopping skills, and letting their personal concept of being well impact their food and shopping behaviors.”

The pandemic has focused consumer attention on the connection between food and health, Sarasin says. FMI is working to develop an industrywide approach to the topic that can provide a long-term, positive opportunity to leverage food for better health while emphasizing the importance of culture, family meals and the enjoyment of food.

FMI’s 2021 report identifies three major trends:

• The Era of At-Home Meals. Today, 58% of shoppers report eating more at home, and nearly half (49%) report cooking or preparing their own meals more than before the pandemic. When it comes to grocery shopping to support these at-home meals, shoppers have a newfound appreciation for the task, with 42% saying they like or love to grocery shop.

• E-commerce and Grocery Shopping. The number of online grocery shoppers grew to nearly two-thirds (64%) of all U.S. adults, with newcomers from every generation. Frequency of online grocery shopping also increased, with more than one-fourth (29%) of online shoppers placing a weekly order. For the first time, many more online grocery shoppers now consider a mass retailer to be their primary store.

• The Concept of Being Well Evolves. Today, shoppers’ concept of “being well” involves an interlocking, circular relationship among the domains of shopping, cooking and eating. The report contends that this phenomenon helps explain shoppers’ engagement with the evolving retail landscape. FMI has created an online experience at FMI.org/GroceryTrends that shares shoppers’ insights on being well in their own words.

FMI works with and on behalf of the industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain. FMI brings together members across the value chain — from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the variety of companies providing critical services — to amplify the collective work of the industry.

The association also advocates on behalf of the industry in campaigns to reduce food insecurity and promote nutrition and health,


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