Looking forward to fall 2021

How Canadians’ pandemic experience is transforming eating patterns

Our cumulative pandemic experience and trauma prompted significant shifts in consumption behaviours, motivations and general beliefs. While social consciousness trends, such as Canadians’ love for local and increasing prioritization of sustainability and environmental factors, have intensified, others, like scratch cooking and baking, have stalled. 

Thinking ahead to fall 2021, the promise of high vaccination rates and provinces opening for business will likely result in a new shift in priorities, as consumers move outside the home, planning returns to work and school routines.

However, businesses will need to consider the legacy impact that the pandemic and home confinement will have on future habits and new safety measures, as individuals expand personal interactions that require daily risk assessments.

Well-being intensifies

Ipsos food and beverage daily behavioural tracking services* reveal that consumers’ definition of what is healthy has been expanding beyond nourishment and nutrient intake for years. Today, more than half of all health-related consumption decisions (58%) move beyond solely focusing on nutrition and nourishment. Daily health decisions now include both physical and emotional benefits. 

Consider consumers’ appetites for functional foods and beverages that provide benefits such as enhancing immunity, lowering risk of disease, aiding in digestion and augmenting concentration (to name a few).

Contactless foodservice

As consumers adapted to the initial realities of restrictions and closures (April 2020 to March 2021), there was ongoing tectonic shift to off-premise consumption, with Canadians making even greater use of limited-contact ordering. Ipsos tracking reports that take-out, drive-thru and delivery service traffic share rose 24%, compared to the pre-pandemic era. 

Consider that safety and personal contact concerns are likely to increase as consumers venture out. In turn, the use of contactless solutions will intensify, even as consumers explore and seek a wider array of food experiences.

Cooking fatigue 

Scratch cooking has proved a volatile trend in the varying stages of the pandemic.  During the initial homebound period (April to June 2020), scratch cooking occasions increased by 22%, versus pre-pandemic, as we hunkered down.  However, the willingness to scratch cook three meals a day is waning, and data shows Canadian meal preparers are increasingly looking for solutions to ease the load, which varies by daypart: Lunch is much more likely to involve moderate preparation, with almost half (47%) of food being completely homemade, while dinner is more labour intensive, with 57% of items being completely homemade. 

Consider solutions like meal kits and quality frozen entrees that aid in home preparation, while allowing meal preparers to nurture and feed for loved ones.

Online shopping

While online food and beverage shopping accelerated significantly (+61%) during the pandemic, Ipsos data reveals this may slow post-pandemic. The majority of shoppers enjoy online shopping convenience and safety, however, more than half (56%) report they enjoy going to the store for the variety and selection, as well as the in-store experience. A similar share of shoppers say they will engage in more frequent trips outside the home, once restrictions ease.

Consider hybrid digital experiences that allow consumers to browse in-store, order and pay digitally as they shop, then pick-up items curbside to bypass line-ups.

New values

For Canadians, there’s an expanding criterion for determining value that includes, quality, overall well-being and the environment, as well as the pent-up desire for new experiences, enjoyment and engagement.

Look for opportunities to create new value equations focused on price benefits. Target new tensions and triggers that are meaningful to consumers by allowing them to walk away from a purchase feeling like it was worth it, rather than regretting a decision.

Our pandemic experience has altered daily schedules, increased our time at home, changed workplaces and reduced social interactions. In fall 2021, solutions, whether sourced from retail or foodservice, that are easy, safe, reduce stress and meet modern day needs will resonate with Canadians. 


Kathy Perrotta will delivery the keynote at the 2021 Star Women in Convenience Awards Event on September 29, 2021. 

"Conscious consumption: Offering Canadians convenience without compromise" will delve into key macro trends shaping consumers’ consumption choices and examine how the industry can be inspired and empowered to meet these needs as a framework for growth."

Register today!

More Blog Posts in This Series


    Attracting women

    Females shopping at c-gas stores dropped during the pandemic, but here’s how you can get them back.
    Young girl is choosing to buy foodstuffs at the supermarket

    Selling summer

    From barbeques to beverages, stock up to satisfy Canadian consumers’ warm weather cravings.
    ulticultural friends eating together at luxury pub restaurant - Life style concept with trendy multiracial people having fun on happy hour at bar eatery - Vivid filter with focus on central woman

    Ipsos 2023 foodservice outlook

    Despite economic pressures and consumers tightening purse strings, there’s an opportunity to grow this key category.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds