Study Shows Pandemic Changed How Americans Eat Vegetables, Fruit
Americans not only cooked and ate more meals at home in 2020, but they also munched on different vegetables and fruits and changed their cooking techniques, according to a new report from FMI, the food industry association.
In its “Power of Produce 2021,” FMI learned 78% of consumers changed how they prepared vegetables and fruits for meals. Americans also experimented with new flavors and cooking techniques.
The produce report highlights include:
- 33% tried to cook different fruits or vegetables,
- 33% used new spices, sauces or flavors,
- 32% followed a recipe from a cooking show or website,
- 29% tried a new cooking method, including frying, baking and grilling,
- 26% cooked with a new tool, such as air fryer and pressure cooker, and
- 20% tried a restaurant style preparation.
Younger consumers, Gen Z and Millennials, are leading the trend and most likely changed how they prepared fruits and vegetables, according to the report. Younger shoppers are also more likely to try recipes from grocery stores.
Along with gaining new cooking skills, consumers had more time and opportunities to add more vegetables and fruits to meals they made at home. Shoppers reported adding more vegetables to their lunches and dinners. Fruits were included in more breakfasts and eaten as snacks. And online information and ideas helped boost the trend. People working from home reported using virtual cooking and food sites, especially for lunch preparation and snacks.
Consumers became particularly aware of where food came from during the pandemic and sought local sources. The pandemic has provided a strong boost and interest from consumers to spend within their communities and support local growers.
While fresh produce has long been viewed as essential to a healthy diet, Americans are eating more fruits and vegetables for their health attributes. In 2020, sales of leafy greens, berries and citrus increased faster than other produce items, according to Produce Business.