How COVID-19 changed our grocery habits

Story ideas from the McGill community.
Published: 11 January 2023

To better understand food-related decisions during the pandemic, a team of McGill researchers, including School of Human Nutrition Professor Daiva Nielsen and postdoctoral fellow Katherine Labonté, conducted an online survey among a sample of adults from Quebec to compare grocery shopping behaviours in 2019 and 2020. The study showed that at the beginning of the pandemic, people reduced the frequency of in-store shopping expeditions. This reduction occurred in tandem with a rise in curbside pick-up and delivery. But by early 2020, even as province after province in Canada declared public health emergencies, and pandemic restrictions came into force, routine grocery runs changed dramatically compared to the beginning of the pandemic. By early 2020, more than three-quarters of survey respondents expressed an increased desire to support local food retailers compared to 2019. Furthermore, 68 per cent of them placed increased importance on the country of origin of food products.

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