Jan 20, 2022
Rise in ag ‘channels’ shown in new consumer food insights

As part of the Local and Regional Food Systems Response to COVID-19 project, in the fall of 2020 a team of researchers conducted a national survey of over 5,000 households.

The survey provides important insights into how the pandemic changed the way that U.S. households made food choices and if some of those changes will remain post pandemic. The Consumer Food Insights series provides information about what we learned to help guide businesses along local and regional supply chains.

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers began diversifying their food purchasing. For instance, 35% of survey respondents purchased from a new market channel between April 2020 and September 2020. More specifically, 6% of survey respondents tried a new independent restaurant for the first time, while farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions (CSA), and artisan markets each had 3% of respondents trying their channels for the first time. Also of note, 17% of respondents reported that they more broadly explored new food market choices, trying two or more new channels during those months.

Whether this initial food buying experimentation will result in long-term market channel engagement by consumers remains to be seen. In Figure 1, we present the percentage of these first-time buyers who indicated that they were still using these new market channels in September 2020. At least 31% of respondents expressed continued use, with the artisan or specialty markets (e.g., bakeries, delis, fish markets) having the greatest consumer retention rate.

View the full report here:

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

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