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

AAEA member research released in AEPP

It was a race to the toilet paper, then to the meats, creating sheer chaos in grocery stores. In a new study, researchers surveyed the same consumers at four different points in time during the early months of the pandemic to learn more about their food spending and shopping behaviors.

In the new article “Examining food purchase behavior and food values during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brenna Ellison from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brandon McFadden from the University of Delaware, Bradley Rickard from Cornell University and Norbert Wilson from Duke University dive deeper in how consumers’ food purchasing behavior evolved during the first several weeks of the pandemic.

Ellison says, “Most food spending went toward food-at-home (FAH), with large decreases in spending for food-away-from-home (FAFH). The decrease in FAFH spending was driven by significant decreases in spending on eating out in restaurants. We observed increases in spending for carry out within FAFH, but not enough to offset the decreases in eating out. We also observed a significant increase in the proportion of households who utilized online grocery shopping. Finally, we found that food values were relatively stable throughout our study, with taste still being most important to the average consumer.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
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