JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — More than half (55%) of consumers are eating at home more as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but not all are enjoying the change in eating habits, according to a new report from Acosta.

The sales and marketing agency found a quarter of consumers are sick of eating at home more, while a third said they have found a new passion for cooking since the pandemic began.

The report, based on surveys conducted between in July and August, breaks down changes to retail spending and eating patterns and highlights new opportunities for manufacturers.

“With more than half of consumers eating at home more often and some with less money to spend, there are a myriad of challenges and opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to navigate,” said Colin Stewart, executive vice president of business intelligence at Acosta. “The implications of staying at home and reduced commutes are far reaching and jolted channel trends.”

The study found 44% of shoppers are eating breakfast at home every day, compared to 33% pre-COVID. Around a third are eating lunch and dinner at home every day, up from 18% for lunch and 21% for dinner pre-COVID.

The biggest challenges shoppers reported when meal planning were grocery shopping because of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in public (45%), planning different meals each day (40%), lacking ingredients to make a meal (38%) and improving cooking skills (17%).  

Post-COVID, half of consumers said they plan to eat breakfast out less than before or not at all, compared to 33% who plan to eat lunch out less and 29% who plan to eat dinner out less. Among shoppers who anticipate eating out less often or not at all, the top reasons were concerns about the effects of COVID-19 and saving money.

Opportunities exist for manufacturers to forge new partnerships to extend foodservice brands and chef-forward ideas into retail, Acosta said.  

“Foodservice sales surpassed retail food and beverage sales in 2015 and were expected to continue to gain share, until the pandemic hit,” Mr. Stewart said. “Now, even the best-case scenario for foodservice will end the year in the red.”

Other opportunities include shifting with meal dayparts and occasions to provide inspiration and support for consumers who may be frustrated about cooking at home.

Executing relevant digital messaging is key as more shoppers utilize e-commerce platforms for pantry staples.

“Online food, beverage and alcohol spend is expected to increase 30% this year,” Mr. Stewart said.