Food consumption behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lauren Chenarides, Carola Grebitus, Jayson L. Lusk, Iryna Printezis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


We conducted an online consumer survey in May 2020 in two major metropolitan areas in the United States to investigate food shopping behaviors and consumption during the pandemic lockdown caused by COVID-19. The results of this study parallel many of the headlines in the popular press at the time. We found that about three-quarters of respondents were simply buying the food they could get due to out of stock situations and about half the participants bought more food than usual. As a result of foodservice closures, consumers indicated purchasing more groceries than normal. Consumers attempted to avoid shopping in stores, relying heavily on grocery delivery and pick-up services during the beginning of the pandemic when no clear rules were in place. Results show a 255% increase in the number of households that use grocery pickup as a shopping method and a 158% increase in households that utilize grocery delivery services. The spike in pickup and delivery program participation can be explained by consumers fearing COVID-19 and feeling unsafe. Food consumption patterns for major food groups seemed to stay the same for the majority of participants, but a large share indicated that they had been snacking more since the beginning of the pandemic which was offset by a sharp decline in fast food consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-81
Number of pages38
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • coronavirus
  • delivery
  • food consumption
  • grocery shopping
  • pandemic
  • pick-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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