Do we eat differently during lockdown? This week we take a look again at the UK.
Within one of our previous Lockdown diaries (LD#2), we noticed that directly after the Government decision to lockdown in the UK, there has been a really strong shift to food related websites: food suppliers (i.e. supermarkets), food delivery services & recipe websites.
We decided to further explore the changes of cooking habits during this time in the UK specifically. For this purpose, we focused on two types of recipe websites, the mainstream ones (represented here by allrecipes.com and bbcgoodfood.com) and one more rather expert (greatbritishchef.com, whose self-description is “the go-to destination for food lovers in search of recipe inspiration, expert cooking guides”).
Let’s compare the usage of these two types of food websites before and after lockdown1.
First result, mainstream websites (+83% compared to before lockdown) are more visited post lockdown than before and the opposite for expert one (-47.7% compared to before lockdown). When it comes to number of visitors, mainstream websites gain visitors during lockdown and the more expert ones seem to lose a little bit:
New visitors however, do not change the gender share; when it comes to the split of the chores in the household lockdown does not seem to have changed anything… Women are overrepresented among the new visitors of mainstream websites:
The first conclusion we can draw from this data is pretty obvious; as observed in France last week (LD#6), lockdown leads to more visits on recipe websites, from people who are likely to be less expert than usual visitors of these kind of websites. It’s clear that these new visitors would rather go on mainstream recipes websites than on expert or specialist websites. An indication of this novice attitude also comes from the duration of their visits on mainstream recipe websites: we see it move from 7.23 minute on average before lockdown to 10.05 minutes, they obviously need more support to cook (so they follow step by step recipes) or they need more time to decide which recipe to choose.
In order to explore not only if they browse the web differently but also if and how we are eating differently, we scraped the content of the web pages visited2 of our tracked panelists from the 3 aforementioned websites in order to see the recipes, the preparation and cooking time, and the level of cooking expertise3 (scraped zones are highlighted on the picture below):
First, during lockdown, recipes visited need less time to be completed. Average total (cooking time) time decreases during lockdown; it drops down from 55.05 minutes to 43 minutes.
Then the recipes visited begin differ. Below are the word clouds of actual participant searches made of the recipes visited before and after lockdown:
The analysis is similar to what we witnessed in France last week. In comparison to “normal times”, recipes during lockdown are easier to cook (“easy” is over represented on the word cloud), they need less fresh ingredients (in particular, we can clearly see that there is less meat, from varying kinds on the word cloud during lockdown than usual), and they are more related to treats and bakery (chocolate & cake etc.).
If we may impart our findings into your daily decisions whilst we are in lockdown, indulge yourself, eat well and have the cake! 😊
1 Since 2016, a part of our UK panel has accepted to share their navigation / app usage data with us. They all have installed a software / an app which monitors their online activities.
To avoid seasonal effects (easter lamb for instance), we compared the data collected at the exact same period 23rd of March -date of the lockdown decision in the UK – to the 26th of April in 2019 and in 2020. Both samples were national representative (gender, age). In 2019 in the given time frame n=1123, in 2020 n = 1246.
2 887 recipes scraped in total.
3 Here results are not insightful, as on these websites, most of the recipes are declared as “easy”.