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How Covid-19 is affecting you – the consumer

Short interviews with a European panel of consumers for their thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 on the food system
How is the current situation having implications on the food on my plate? Well, definitely, it has had implications on my grocery shopping as I was used to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables at the local farmer’s market. And I have done only online shopping in the past month. I have noticed myself that people are investing a lot more time in cooking, but also baking from scratch, possibly as a consequence of having a bit more time on their hands. In supermarkets in the UK, we’ve seen a lot of panic buying for a range of items, particularly bulk foods, which have a long shelf life, so things like pasta, rice, tinned foods like soup.
I think the main challenges faced by COVID-19 in the UK are the impacts on farmers and food producers, and the demand for labour when there is a shortage of labour. In the county where I am in Norfolk, it’s a very agricultural county. And the most visible impact and challenges for the agri-food chain was really the farmers posting pictures of tonnes of potatoes waiting to be shipped out that were destined for fish and chip shops and restaurants that have now closed. So people actually could buy potatoes in quite big quantities, so replacing the pasta that was non-existent in the supermarkets. I think what we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks is the insecurity in our supply chain and our food industry.
As a nation, as Europeans, we’ve taken for granted that we will have safe sustainable food supply at all times. COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges to us. Firstly, what really struck me is the panic. The panic sets in people with the threat to their supply chains. The fact that the knee-jerk reaction of panic buying and stockpiling and the knock-on effects that that has on the industry. So overall, I’ve definitely seen the positive side of COVID and health. It’s making people realise where their food is coming from. People are now more aware that fruit and veg do come from farms in this country, and that we might have a low access to certain seasonal fruit and veg.
They are now rotting on farms, because there’s no one there to pick them. First time I’ve realised how much we depend on seasonal migrants to actually pick our fruit and veg. And so it’s actually helped me understand a little bit more about how food gets onto my plate. As a consequence possibly of some reported shortages in the bigger supermarkets, people more than ever are seeking out and buying from local producers and local shops. So, for example, meat from your local butcher or bread from your local bakery, consumers are really turning to farm shops and other local producers really to fill those gap. An important part of food has always been linked to the social aspect.
Now we see cooking challenges done online, romantic dinners, birthday parties, virtual happy hours through established and newly discovered social apps. So an interesting thing to consider is that food is still connecting us to each other in a way even during this crisis.

In this video, you’ll meet a group of consumers and hear how Covid-19 is affecting them and the implications it has on the food on their plates, as well as their views on the main challenges posed by Covid-19 for the agri-food chain in the country they are living in.

Please note that due to Covid-19, all our video contributors had to self-record themselves using a laptop or smartphone. As a result, the audio quality is not optimal. We apologise for the inconvenience. Should you want to better understand the video content, we have provided the English audio transcript in the downloads section below .

Once you’ve heard from our volunteers, we would like to know what you consider as being the main threat to the food system in a time of crisis ? And what are the mitigations measures you witnessed in your Country / Region / Locality ?

Share your thoughts in the comments area, below and don’t forget to ‘Like’ or ‘Reply’ if you read an interesting comment.

We’d very much like to thank all the volunteers who took part in this video for allowing us to share their thoughts.

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Understanding Food Supply Chains in a Time of Crisis

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