A study into consumer shopping and consumption behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role of Australian horticulture in helping people find health and wellbeing.
Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand said COVID-19 has shown how valuable horticulture is to maintaining a mentally and physically healthy nation.
“I think people can see that and that’s why they support Australian growers, who continue to work hard and deliver produce through challenging times,” Brand said.
During 2020, Hort Innovation worked with research company Fiftyfive5 to provide the Australian horticulture sector access to regularly updated information about consumer attitudes and behaviours during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
Lockdown had a profound impact on how people prepared food as well as nurturing a freedom to get creative in the kitchen.
Australians looked to fresh produce as core ingredients, between March and December, on average 39% more Australian consumers reported buying more fresh produce.
The research showed that 60 per cent of buyers reported that being Australian grown has become significantly more important, compared to before the start of the pandemic.
Snacking behaviours from July found that 27 per cent of Australians were eating more snacks compared to consumption before the pandemic began.
Many fresh produce categories were consumed more regularly (as snacks), including berries, bananas, and nuts.
“The pandemic impacted every element of the Australian way of life and drove behaviour change which meant consumers interacted with horticulture,” Brand said.
“Through the consumption of fruit, vegetables and nuts with meal preparation at home, through to people spending more time in the garden increasing consumption of nursery items and turf.”
The data from Hort Innovation was provided to growers through weekly overviews to help them prepare for the increase in domestic demand.