News & Updates

The food and drink environment in Scotland

New research from Food Standards Scotland (FSS), using data provided by market research company Kantar, shows how the nation’s shopping and eating habits have changed following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Four reports were developed providing an overview of what we bought from shops and supermarkets and out of home businesses between 2019 and 2021.

A big change has been the increase in online grocery shopping which saw a huge surge in popularity. Online grocery shopping increased in value to £951 million in 2021, representing an increase of 109.4%, compared to 2019. This illustrates changes to shopping behaviour, as a result of the pandemic. However, the increase in purchasing food and drink online remains sustained.  

The impact of the pandemic has also affected the out of home sector, with the overall value of this market in 2021 22% lower than in 2019. Despite this however, the takeaway and delivery market grew considerably over this time, rising to a value of £1.5 billion -an 88% increase between 2019 and 2021. The ability to order deliveries using food technology such as restaurant web and third party apps such as Just Eat or Deliveroo played a key role in this growth, with an increase of nearly 25 million trips using these methods compared to 2019.

Overall we continued to buy more groceries into the home in 2021 when compared with pre-pandemic, equating to 140 extra calories being bought every day, for everyone in Scotland.

Many discretionary food categories, such as confectionery, sweet biscuits and sugary drinks continue to be  top contributors to the calories, fat and sugar purchased from shops and supermarkets in Scotland, and these types of categories are also purchased frequently on promotion.

Alana McDonald, Senior Public Health Nutrition Advisor at FSS, said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on our lives, and these new reports provide a valuable insight into how consumer purchasing has been impacted in both retail and the out of home food environment.

Whilst there have been some positives, such as an increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables we bought, we have also seen a rise in unhealthy food behaviours. For example an increase in discretionary foods, (such as biscuits, cakes and savoury snacks), continue to account for 20% of calories in our shopping basket,  takeaways are also on the rise. This may not be surprising as respondents motivation for health as a reason for what we choose to eat has also declined since 2019, accounting for just 24% of our meal occasions in 2021.”

Further detail can be found in the new reports, which will be showcased in a free webinar. We would encourage interested stakeholders, including the food industry, academics, and government to sign up.