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Examining Food Purchase Behavior and Food Values During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published: September 2020
Bibliographic reference: Brenna Ellison, Brandon McFadden, Bradley J. Rickard, Norbert L.W. Wilson, Examining Food Purchase Behavior and Food Values During COVID-19 Pandemic, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy (2021) volume 43, number 1, pp. 58–72. doi:10.1002/aepp.13118

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The COVID-19 pandemic has altered conceptions of “normal” globally, including food purchasing and acquisition decisions. In this paper, we surveyed a panel of 1,370 U.S. households four times during the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-March to late April 2020. With this unique panel, we observe changes in food expenditures, shopping behaviors, and food values as the pandemic evolved. Our results reveal reductions in food-away-from-home expenditures and increases in online grocery shopping. Food values appear to be fairly stable in the early stages of the pandemic; however, decreases in the importance of price and nutrition reveal tradeoffs households make during the pandemic.

Key words: Consumer behavior, COVID-19, food expenditures, food values, survey.

JEL codes: C23, D12, Q18.