Wilbur-Ellis customers grow food and produce hundreds of food and personal care products. With COVID-19, trends seem to be changing. One big change is that many of us are cooking at home more than ever. We’d love to know what food and / or consumer product changes you’re seeing at your house or in the marketplace. With this in mind:
In response to the pandemic, have your food habits or consumer product buying habits changed – OR are you seeing changes in what the food / consumer products industries are producing for people, pets or livestock?
Lois Schwert, United States
Our family is eating fresh from the garden and farmers market more than ever. We sell vegetables some and sales are good. We began direct to customer beef and response has been positive.
Lori Long, United States (Nutrition)
In support of small, struggling businesses I've been doing 90% of my shopping at local stores and farmer's markets.
Dan Willey, United States (Corporate)
I think the biggest change I've seen with my family is much more eating at home vs. going out to eat. We do make it a point to support some local restaurants with take-out orders, but on balance we're eating at home much more often. It has forced me to become a little more creative in the kitchen!
Patrick Mulvaney, United States
I have a restaurant in Sacramento. Since the pandemic began farmers and ranchers have had to pivot their planting and distribution. For Great Plates Delivered, the governors senior feeding program that has served over 6M meals, restaurants source produce from small and medium farms. It keeps the economy going and the farms growing.
Grant Hellwarth, United States
Grew a bigger garden and enjoying bigger salads. My yellow heirloom tomatoes rock!
Md.Motiur Rahman, Bangladesh (Connell)
Yes, I think that consumers eating habits have changed to some extent. People are now averse, in a sense, unable to expend money as before due to the severe covid crisis all over the world. This pandemic has worsened the economic conditions of the people. Many people worldwide have become jobless & are running a miserable life. That's why their food habits have changed a lot. A lot of people now-a-days live from hand to mouth and they can't afford to buy good and healthy foods up to their will. On the contrary, businesses have also shifted their business according to the consumers demand. They have started targeting the required products for the customers and set up their business plans accordingly. To recapitulate, business is being done more consciously and strategically in recent times in order to cope up with the customers behavioural pattern on the context of challenges of COVID-19.
Jeanne Forbis, United States (Corporate)
Cooking all meals at home has been the biggest change in our food habits during the pandemic. As a result, we’re trying new products that we most likely never would have tried, in order to make meals more interesting. And we’ve discovered some new favorites in the process. In terms of buying food and other consumer products, early in the pandemic consumers were panic buying, and some items were in short supply. But now, consumers seem to have more confidence in the supply chain, and the panic buying appears to have been curtailed – and I think stores are responding better in terms of stocking items people want. We’ve also increased ordering products online and picking them up curb-side or receiving them through the mail. This is a great convenience that I think will continue at a high level even after the pandemic ends.
Patrick Troy, United States (Agribusiness)
Our food habits have certainly changed during Covid. Just like the famous nutrient deficiency image of Liebig's barrel for plant nutrition, we must eat balanced (and diverse) to be healthy. One stave that is broken will reduce our capacity. For our family, that means cooking more greens, veggies and 'from-scratch' recipes. Sure it takes time, but the benefits are worth it! Don't eat poor quality/deficient foods; when it comes to your body and mind, "Fill 'er Up!"
Mike Hunter, United States (Corporate)
We are supporting our small, family owned restaurants, grocery stores and farms as much as we can. They are the most vulnerable.
Laurie Pant, United States (Agribusiness)
We purchased 3 calves to raise for beef and 4 pigs. It was difficult to get processing times to butcher the animals and we are having to wait months, but I am glad we will have meat in the freezer.
Marju Hermogeno, Philippines (Connell)
Indeed, food habits or consumer product buying habits changed. Online selling has boomed and even the large scale businesses have explored on this. I myself do shopping of my needs every week at the supermarket or department store, but when this pandemic has affected the lives of the people in the world, I have been buying my necessities via online through the contribution of social media platforms. Ironically, this buying habit has helped the small to medium enterprises cope up with their business though some have not sold that much but at least have explored other means in catering to their customers and consumers as well. I am seeing that the producing market will step up in their product preservation means and movements of products so as to serve better. I even think the pack size or serving size shall be very much affected.
Simon Ford, Australia (Connell)
My wife and I are eating more healthy options and we purchase mostly only what we need, as we now have greater capacity to create meal plans and have the food delivered, rather than 'wandering' the supermarket.
Gavin Giere, United States (Corporate)
In response to the pandemic, my family's food habits & consumer product buying habits have both changed. During the pandemic and as a result of trying to be physically fit and not gain too much weight from inactivity, we have gone to more of a plant-based diet. That said, meat is not off the table - no pun intended. Moreover, purchasing our groceries online and picking up curbside is something that we never did prior to the pandemic. Ensuring the safety of our family members and those around us, we limit the number of trips to the store for curbside pickup, wear a mask even in the car during delivery to the trunk of the car, and always do our best to provide a tip for the essential workers providing this service.
David Puckett, United States
Karen Hall, United States
My food habits have not changed dramatically. Earlier in the pandemic some items were hard to find so we just made adjustments. I think it is interesting that frozen and convenience foods saw such a surge. Since I usually cook at home I didn't have much trouble adjusting.
Kelly Roberts, United States
Yes, our food habits have changed. In our home we are more conscious of making healthy, full meals rather than something to simply sustain us. Being restricted to home has changed the way we are eating for the better.
Nelissa Croach, United States (Agribusiness)
COVID-19 definitely changed our buying habits. We use to plan 1 week in advance for dinner (if we were lucky) which often leads to grabbing something quick or going out for breakfast/lunch. Nowadays we are planning 2-3 weeks in advance for ALL meals. We try to limit our exposure by only going to the grocery store 1-2 times a month, Costco once a month, and farmers market weekly. We are baking, cooking, and trying out new recipes as a family! With that said we have also been very aware of the local businesses that are struggling. We try to shop local and give back when possible.
Dhwani Shah, India (Connell)
In response to the pandemic, food habits and product buying behavior has definitely changed. Cooking has become a regular phenomenon in an Indian household now. Many of them are looking for short-cuts while cooking which will not compromise the taste of the meal. Various table sauces, RTC/RTE gravies, seasonings that add final flavour to the dish have become a convenient option for consumers. Lot of brands have come up with products which promise consumers can recreate restaurant- style dishes at homes. Also to respond to consumers' various culinary needs, brands have developed multipurpose products like sauces and seasonings which function as marinades, dips or glazes. On the contrary, there has been an increased interest in recipes requiring minimal ingredients such as "three/five ingredient" recipes to make homemade meals from available items in home pantries.
Smita Shetty, India (Connell)
The pandemic has brought in lot of changes in food habits of consumer in India with its rich ayurveda heritage has revisited its age old spices -Turmeric & Ginger to create a plethora of immunity boosting products for its people. Immunity & Hygiene are the top most priority in the “New Normal”.
Karen Carter, United States (Nachurs Alpine Solutions)
In the beginning of the pandemic, there was a problem with stores here stocking fresh meat like chicken and ground beef, etc. We have since then begun eating more plant based and have seen improvements in our health. We have always enjoyed eating as a family and cooking at home, but now we are trying new recipes geared at a plant based proteins and vegetables. This can be challeging at times; everyone knows change can be difficult but so worth it. Inlcuded is a picture of our Vegan Buffalo Wings made with cauliflower.
Annette Puvaloski, United States (Agribusiness)
Currently, more families are eating more meals at home; together at the dinner table. Many are exploring homemade meals and even producing or growing their own fruits and vegetables. It appears that there is much more canning, freezing and preserving taking place than ever before. I feel that it has been a very positive change for many families to have more time together and explore preparing meals together and eating together. Now, that many activities and sports have been cancelled for children and adults there is more time to spend at home.
Wade Pregitzer, United States
People are stocking up on fresh produce that they can preserve, and eating a little more healthy as they are cooking at home more.
Tze Ying Goh, Singapore (Connell)
In view of the pandemic, we spent more time eating at home. Instead of buying from the grocery store, we started to plan some simple vegetables such as spring onions, mint and tomato. We used a lot of spring onion in Asian dishes. Planting ourselves ensure that it is truly organic.
Amie Thesingh, United States (Corporate)
The pandemic has prompted so many changes in how people consume food! Sit down restaurants have had to pivot to stay in business, creating curb-side service seemingly overnight. Consumers are eating at home, working at home, and learning to center the majority of daily entertainment activities at home. These changes have forced supply chains to shift and new business models to take center stage. One of the most interesting models connects farmers directly to consumers, re-routing food destined for restaurants and schools and saving it from becoming waste. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/farmers-prosper-in-pandemic-as-americans-shop-local/
Adrielle Yeow, Malaysia (Connell)
During the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia that started in Mar 2020 when it is a strict period to stay at home and not allowed to go out except for essential and only by one member of the family, during this period, I stocked up more food ingredients especially canned, frozen food and eggs. I cooked more and tried out many recipes that I had not tried before in my life to make use of the time and feed appetite of outside food (LOL). After some weeks of MCO, it is tiring to cook every meal, so I called for food delivery on certain occasion. This is also motivated by the thought of helping restaurants which face deep impact in this pandemic when customers are much less and shorter operating hours compared to the days before pandemic. Now that Malaysia is under Recovery MCO period where we can go out but with social distancing, mask wearing and good hygiene, my family and I do go out to dine again once in a while. Although restaurants are able to operate again, but must follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) so there are less seats in restaurants and limited number of diners at one time. I tried to avoid crowded places. From my observation, families that have higher risked members (children below 6 years old and elderlies) do avoid eating out and cook or bake more. Another factor to eating at home more is because families are also economically affected as many has salary cut or loss of main income. I have a friend who does their own farming of vegetables using hydroponic method in her house. All these are the changes that I see in response to the pandemic.
Ben T, United States
My family’s habits have remained mostly the same. An exception is eating out. We have eaten out a lot less than before the pandemic. We like to eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, which we still do. So, that aspect has not changed. Another area that has changed is the frequency of grocery shopping. We tend to shop less frequent than before. But, in general, not much has changed for us. We didn’t eat out that much before, so nor eating out is not impacting us.
Kip Pendleton, United States
Yes we are trying to eat fresher, cleaner and healthier.
Gina Colfer, United States (Agribusiness)
I have really focused my purchasing and eating habits toward foods that are nutrient dense and plant based. It is important to me that my family consume foods that are safe and wholesome, and for my choice, mostly organic. I believe if we eat healthy foods with minimal processes, the healthier we will be. I like to think that is the way of the plant also. Feed the soil healthy food and the plant will be healthier.
Madeline VanLierop, United States
Yes, rather than eating out I am growing a larger garden and buying all of my food from the grocery store. In addition, the change I have noticed most from watching consumers is that they are buying less fresh produce and more over processed/canned foods.
Robyn Ferguson, United States
Beef prices elevated for a short time and certain items are hard to find. Many people are turning to farmers markets and online for produce. Things are definitely different during the pandemic.
Kimberly Anderson, United States
My shopping habits have not changed. Initially I heard rumors of a meat shortage but that does not appear to have happened, at least not in my neck of the woods.
Allen Tucker, United States
We eat at home A LOT more than before.
Juan Castillo, United States (Agribusiness)
We are going less to the supermarket and when we go we buy everything we need for the month and in the cooking part it has not changed we have cooked at home always home cooked meals are regulars at our home
Karmen Mehmen, United States
We try to go out to our favorite restaurants at least once a week since their opening back up but we have not socialized with our friends nearly as much. I have a garden for the first time in 40 years. I'm eating out of my freezer more instead of buying food. My husband and I stay home more instead of entertaining as much. We are NOT afraid of the virus but more aware of the economic downturn so we spend less.
Vikas Shrivastav, India (Connell)
We have seen big change in buying patterns. People buying only essential items. For food habits we have seen changes in our regular life, more home cooked food rather than restaurants, preferred healthy food which improves immune system rather than junk food.
Brett Dunn, United States (Agribusiness)
Probably not a big surprise that we purchase food items in larger quantities today than we used to in order to not go to the store as often for the less exposure. We are purchasing more non-perishable items, using curbside pickup, and even some home delivery which is something we did not do before. We have increased our Amazon shopping and purchases dramatically. Our overall eating habits have improved a great deal as I am not grabbing quick bites on the road. It has given me the opportunity to eat healthy (more regimented) and drop a few pounds (yeah!).
Stephen Maj, Canada (Nachurs Alpine Solutions)
Food habits have definitely changed. My family and I are taking time to prepare more meals at home versus consuming restaurant meals or purchasing prepared/frozen food. In addition to preparing healthier meals, we have a greater emphasis on growing our own vegetables. Experimenting with different flavours and spices, overall the meals and vegetables are tastier and healthier. A key benefit is that the whole family is engaged.
Daniel Black, United States (Nachurs Alpine Solutions)
We are buying a lot more whole foods, and trying new fruits and vegetables that we hadn't previously bought. One new favorite is fresh mango, which we didn't know was so delicious. We also love brussels sprouts, so we have been experimenting with the many ways to fix them.
Joshua Hansen, United States (Agribusiness)
In response to the pandemic, our family's food habits have changed to focus on more fresh food prepared at home with practically no eating out, and an increase in shelf stable foods such as dry beans, pastas, and rice.
Shilpa Kulkarni, India (Connell)
In response to the pandemic, our food habits have definitely changed, where there have been a sharp switch & focus more or almost in: - 100% in home cooked food. - Immunity boosting options. - More organic food/vegetables from branded shops/online. - Snacking on healthier options. Industries always have to meet the changes as per the consumers demand. There have been lot of new launches, where the product talks about the immunity boosting even in products like cooking oil! We have also seen some very innovative launch like the one from India’s no. 1 dairy - "AMUL" launching a TURMERIC ICE CREAM- Turmeric being considered one of the most powerful in Immunity boosting.
Venkatesh Murthy, India (Connell)
Since Covid-19 starting days, I have seen that none of my family members eat outside food. They have to eat only HOMEMADE foods, more cleaner habits, avoid unnecessary travel out of the home, to keep at least 3M distance from anyone when they talk, etc., awareness and clean surroundings are priority. I have even advised my friends and family network with the above, I being a member of the residential association have implemented the above. Safety, cleanliness, social distancing and homemade food ideas have given good results.
Muhammad Shukri, Malaysia (Connell)
In response to the pandemic, I personally changed my food habits and product buying. For some reason I have more concern on healthy food. Others seems to maintain like before pandemic.
Debbie Rettig, United States (Nachurs Alpine Solutions)
My food habits and consumer buying habits have changed drastically during the pandemic. My husband, Bill, and I eat out frequently. Once the “stay at home” order was implemented and restaurants were closed, we no longer had the option of dining out. All of a sudden we were dining in…..all the time! So, from a dining perspective, I’ve gone from being an “end user” to a “food processor”….😊. Those of you who know me, know that I am not a cook….not even close. I am a “marginal microwaver” at best. Yet, this “new normal” has inspired me to stick my toe in the water (or olive oil) and venture into the vast, largely unknown world of the culinary arts. So, strategic meal planning and grocery shopping (fewer trips to the store minimize the risk of exposure) have taken on an air of adventure! When going to the grocery, we “suit up” (i.e., masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes) then divide and conquer our shopping list. And now, 4 months later, I’m happy to say that I have developed a small, but impressive (okay, I’m a little biased), collection of recipes. My signature dish? Chicken breast sautéed in olive oil with onions and garlic over angel hair pasta served with shaved parmesan! I know what you “foodies” are thinking….”that’s very basic”…and you’re absolutely right…it is. But, for a “non-foodie” like me, it is the equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest! Bon appetite!
Kevin Schoenborn, United States (Agribusiness)
Absolutely, our eating habits have changed! As a family we are eating out less and cooking at home more, but still trying to support our favorite restaurants with take-out a couple of times a week. Also trying to be a lot more mindful of where our food is sourced and buying from local farmers as much as possible - stocking the freezer! In addition, we are actively promoting our local growers to friends and family via social media.
Isaree Kaosuntia, Thailand (Connell)
In Thailand, we do not only cook at home but also order delivery food as we do not want to go out especially in Summer season – Grab food and Line Man in Green / Food Panda in Pink and Get in Yellow – Big 4 of Thailand Food delivery business – you can see many bikers wearing Green or Pink or Yellow jackets and are riding on the road or queue up with helmet to order Lunch for their customers. New SME - foods business were born because of Covid-19 and their business went well with Grab, Line Man & Food Panda's support.
Bill Stipe, United States (Agribusiness)
We don't eat out nearly as much and when we do it is to go, we really don't eat different at home. It is good that our garden is in full production and we have chickens that supply eggs for us and 4 other families. The only real change we have made is to use online shopping for 95% of our purchases from groceries to clothes to building supplies.
Joshua Grime, United States (Agribusiness)
As a family we always ate at home at least five days a week. I would say its much closer to 7 days a week now. We also keep a little more food on hand in our pantry than normal. In the stores I see that prices are starting to go up and the shelves are not stocked as full as they were before this pandemic. I have also noticed fruit has been showing up not ripe and has been slim pickings.
Brent Rundell, United States (Agribusiness)
I see a significant increase in gardening and farmers markets in this area. Families need gardens and kids need chores.😊
Stan Buman, United States (Agribusiness)
My consumer product buying habits have changed slightly in two ways. First, I only go to the grocery store every other week, instead of making multiple trips throughout the week. This is a social distancing issue; less visits to public areas. Second, I started gardening again after about an 8 year lapse. It is a very small garden but has provided me with fresh Broccoli, Peas, Green beans, Tomatoes, and Potatoes. The foods I eat have remained pretty much the same, but I haven't needed to purchase vegetables from a grocery store all summer.
Tracy Chinn, United States (Corporate)
I'm doing much more cooking at home now, and my coffee consumption has doubled if not more! Not seeing much in the way of food shortages at the market, but definitely still have trouble finding good cleaning products.
Rob White, United States
We are customers of Wilbur-Ellis growing almonds in central CA. We also raise Angus beef and sell grass finished beef. We have seen quite an upswing in orders of bulk packages. There seems to be an increase in people wanting to know where their food comes from. They want a local source of safe food. Thank you
Juls Taylor, United States
From food to feed and fencing, I am uncomfortable with the fact that some products are unavailable or limited. It is strange to not have an abundance to choose from.
Tabitha Prestler, United States (Corporate)
The main change in our household, unfortunately, is we are no longer enjoying the local farmers markets and instead using grocery store delivery services. While we do our best to purchase fruits and vegetables this way, its not the same. For this reason I think we are also buying less in many cases and willing to go longer in between orders to restock vs the weekly stock up at the farmers market.
Jason Woulfin, United States
My habits have definitely been changing. Initially, our food choices were very health oriented and easy to prepare, but over time have drifted more towards foods and meals that get everyone sitting down at the table. We still make almost all of our own meals (vs ordering take out), but we are getting into more elaborate meals. Retail needs for us are almost all online for the time being.
Valerie Shepherd, United States
My family's food habits and consumer buying habits have definitely changed since the pandemic earlier this year. We shop our town's farmers market weekly and we choose organic whenever we can. I think by supporting local businesses, purchasing organic vegetables and fruits, and supporting our farmers wherever and whenever we can will help our community become stronger during this pandemic.
Mary Fleming, United States
Eating more of home produced food, including meat. Consolidating shopping trips. Purchasing foods that arent considered politically correct.
Helle Ruddenklau Ruddenklau, United States
We had a hard time finding high protein flour for the first four months. It seems everyone took up baking. Here is one of our loaves.
Fayley Meade, United States (Nutrition)
Yes we are eating at home more so we have invested in new cooking utensils to try out new recipes. We have also tried to support our local farmers by regularly visiting the farmers market to buy meat, eggs cheese and veggies. As far as consumer products I have been working from home so I have bought a lot less makeup and a a lot more yoga pants.
Leanne Dalgarno, Canada
I believe this year because of the Covid-19, more people are growing their own produce, spending more time outside in their yards therefore, caring for plants, grass, etc. and actually enjoying the beautiful outdoors!
Chad Borton, United States
We increased the size of our garden. Self reliance and planning for food needs for our family is increasingly important.
Jeff Hershberger, United States (Agribusiness)
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused me to do more bulk food purchases so that I do not need to visit the grocery store as often.
Tracy Genest, Canada (Nutrition)
Definitely our food habits changed during the pandemic. Being in a lock down state you have more time to prepare your food, you become more creative with recipes, yet being a lot more mindful of food costs. My partner was laid off from his job, so all of sudden you have a reduced income, so you look for ways to extend your grocery bill, still being mindful of creating healthy food options. As well if we did choose to do the delivery/take away option, we supported community owned businesses first and foremost to help those in your community stay afloat during this time.
Trista Mills, United States (Nutrition)
Since the pandemic I have seen great changes at home. My husband learned to cook and now understands why I try to buy local when it comes to produce and meats. It's a lot easier to access now that local farmers markets are back open. We are even discussing building a garden so we always have access to fresh food which would be wonderful. We also moved during the pandemic, that meant we lost access to city composting, so we are composting ourselves to reduce organic waste sent to the dump. When we do hit the grocery stores from March to May more processed foods were missing from the shelves. Now I am noticing fresh foods are now more lean. We have some great local markets they only source local companies, so its nice to shop and support a small business as well.
Star Haeri, United States (Corporate)
With COVID, I've been capitalizing on the time I'm saving from commuting by cooking more and cooking things that would traditionally have longer prep times and such. I also limit eating out, so I cook whatever I'm craving and experiment with new recipes. I'd say the biggest change for me is that I'm limiting processed foods and buying more fruits and vegetables instead.
Samuel Maggard, United States (Agribusiness)
We have always done a lot of cooking at home, so I have not really seen a change in our home cooking habits. What I have seen is a bigger demand on basic food products at the grocery store. Items like rice, beans, pasta, potatoes, flour, sugar, meat and poultry, fresh produce, etc… It does seem like supply is catching up with demand in our area and selection is getting much better. One of our favorite (and easy) dishes is a stir fry, using lean protein and lots of fresh vegetables, seasoned well and served with steamed rice. This can be easily be varied using different proteins, vegetables and seasoning.
Gari Fields, United States (Nutrition)
None of our consumer habits or consumer product needs have changed. We live on a small farm and are self sufficient in most areas. Those areas that we are not totally self sufficient are areas that we plan ahead and stock up in preparation for situations like the current pandemic.
Luke Benton, United States (Agribusiness)
My buying tendencies have changed in that I purchase a lot more everyday items online, especially through Amazon. It is so convenient now. I still try to buy things from local small businesses especially meals to help them stay in business during this time.
WE ARE ONE (HUNDRED)
As part of our 100th anniversary celebration, we launched the Giving Program to help people in need worldwide. In total, the Giving Program raised $52,000 USD for the Red Cross, building on the company’s $100,000 donation in 2020.