Eating at home will be ‘the new reality’ for Asian consumers after Covid-19

Covid-19 has changed Asian customers’ habits, especially in Hong Kong, as more of them decide to eat at home.

And according to a study conducted by Nielsen, the trend will continue once the pandemic passes, potentially reshaping the foodservice and grocery industries.

Nielsen found that 86 per cent of mainland Chinese customers prefer to eat at home more often now than before the Covid-19 outbreak. In Hong Kong, 77 per cent of consumers surveyed said they want to cook at home more often.

“As Hong Kong consumers adjust to the ‘new normal’, people are spending more time at home to prepare meals for their families,” said Andrea Borelli, MD at Nielsen Hong Kong and Macau. “With the redefined ‘stay-at-home economy’, it has helped to reinvigorate packaged-food sales as this provides the opportunity for FMCG players in these categories to engage with their consumers more closely.”

This trend also became popular in other Asian countries including South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam (all approximately 62 per cent).

“The shifts away from out-of-home dining to at-home food delivery, takeaways and cooking during the Covid-19 period are locally nuanced by traditional consumption habits but also by the different quarantine and shutdown measures by market,” Borelli added.

He said Covid-19 has reoriented consumer thinking and actions, which will have long-term consequences. Consumers will not only re-evaluate places for eating out but also be far more cognisant of what they’re eating.

The trend is also evident in countries outside Asia. According to GlobalData, both the UK and France are witnessing slow demand for takeaway meals.


“In response, players such as Deliveroo and UberEats are looking to reduce risk exposure by forging partnerships with food retailers, working with major players such as Co-op and M&S in the UK and Carrefour in France,” said Thomas Brereton, retail analyst at GlobalData.

“In that sense, the virus is accelerating the existing shift towards online food shopping; however, all parties must be aware of the expected duration of such alliances, with more thorough reviews – particularly on the dynamics of joint responsibility for ESG, brand image, etc – needed as the outbreak progresses.”

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