Sabri Ulker Foundation General Manager
Sabri Ulker Foundation reached significant findings in its research conducted throughout Turkey under the scope of an international study in order to identify food consumers' approach to food and their changing eating behaviors. According to research conducted in 12 provinces, consumers stocked pasta, pulses, and flour products due to their concerns about food supply. As the importance attached to snacks increased, the number of planned shoppers increased.
Striking results are found in the Turkey section of the global research conducted with the support of many international organizations to detect the important changes seen in the attitude of people towards food and nutrition during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the research conducted with 600 people by the cooperation of Sabri Ulker Foundation and Akademetre through online survey method in 12 provinces across Turkey, important data for all factors in eating habits in the short and long term because of the coronavirus was obtained.
We are happy to be part of an international study. With the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all of us have become more interested in many issues related to food and nutrition, such as what kind of food we eat, and what kind of precautions producers and distributors take at hygiene points. With this research, which we are involved as a foundation, we aimed to identify consumers' approach to food and the changing eating behaviors during the COVID-19 period and to reveal the social, economic, and environmental effects of these changes. We hope that the results we have obtained will contribute to understanding how nutritional habits, which are at the center of human life, can be developed for the long-term benefit of society.
According to the results of the research, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to certain changes in many nutritional behaviors ranging from bread consumption, snacking habits, takeaway services to planned shopping. The data obtained from the research are as follows:
MAIN FOOD GROUPS AND SALES CHANNELS HAVE CHANGED
• During the COVID-19 period, the rate of those who buy staple food items themselves decreased by 1.2 percent. The number of those procuring basic food items from public or municipal aid agencies increased by 1.6 percent.
• There has been a significant decrease in the number of those who buy fresh fruits and vegetables from their district bazaar. There has been no change in the preference rates of outlets such as the grocery stores and the district bazaar where fresh foods such as bread, milk and cheese and durable foods are sold.
• The number of those who preferred discount stores increased. The use of e-commerce sites has become popular compared to the pre-COVID-19 era.
• During the COVID-19 period, the frequency of purchasing fresh products such as bread, milk, and cheese has decreased. There has been no change in fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, or durable foods.
• A significant increase was observed in the preparation and consumption rates of all meals at home, in direct proportion to the increase in time spent at home in the pandemic. The highest increase was in snacks. 17.2 percent of the participants who used to prepare and consume snacks at home. However, this rate increased to 42.5 percent after COVID-19. On the other hand, the rate of those who prepared and consumed lunch at home increased from 75.2 percent to 90 percent.
• While 46.5 percent of participants did not skip meals before COVID-19, this rate increased to 50.2 percent during the COVID-19 period.
• Before COVID-19, 5 out of 10 people used to prefer takeaway places for consuming food at home, while during the COVID-19 process, only about 3 out of 10 people preferred takeaway places.
FROZEN FOOD CONSUMPTION GOES ON AS IS
• Bread and milk consumption frequency decreased significantly during the coronavirus period. While the rate of those who said that they eat bread every day before COVID-19 was 48.7 percent, this rate decreased to 43 percent during the period of COVID-19.
• During this period, the consumption frequency of fresh fruits and vegetables, chocolate, candy, cake, biscuits, fresh meat and fresh fish increased.
• The consumption frequency of frozen foods and convenience foods did not change much during this period.
• The frequency of eating in the cafeterias at the offices has decreased considerably due to remote work. On the other hand, the frequency of eating in places such as restaurants and cafes has decreased due to the fact that they are mostly closed.
• Street vendors were also less preferred during the COVID-19 period.
MORE MONEY SPENT FOR FOOD
• More than 55 percent of respondents stated that their food consumption and money spent on food increased during the COVID-19 period.
• The rate of those who stated that they began to purchase more organic products in this period increased by approximately 40 percent.
• 48.3 percent of the participants stated that their planned grocery/food shopping has increased.
• Around half of the participants said that their frequency of going to food stores like kiosques decreased during this period.
PEOPLE STOCKED PASTA, PULSES, AND FLOUR
• During the COVID-19 process, 15 percent of respondents stated that food stocks increased. Pasta, pulses, and flour were the most stocked products.
• Around 1 out of every 10 people stated that there was a change in food behavior in general during the COVID-19 period. The most important behavioral change has been "disinfecting food".
• 4 out of every 10 people stated that the social distance rule in the markets will continue even if daily life returns to normal.
• There has been a significant increase in the rate of those who expressed concern about food supply during this period. Around 15 percent of the participants stated that their level of concern about the potential impact of the virus was high.