Consumers have been cooking at home more often, developing new meal preparation skills and eating out less often. This was kick started by the pandemic and continues with the rise of inflation. Canadians are now paying significantly more overall for daily goods and services, resulting in less disposable income, and as a result, are less likely to purchase more expensive foods and ingredients at the grocery store.
When it comes to meal planning, it’s no surprise that health and convenience are the top areas considered by Canadians. The bulk (71%) of consumers target eating healthy foods most of the time, and time-crunched consumers will naturally gravitate towards options that are easy and relatively quick.1
When asked about barriers to cooking, time-related roadblocks were one of the top issues cited by Canadians. Between the time it takes to cook, clean, meal prep and shop for ingredients, Canadians are feeling squeezed when it comes to time and are looking to cut corners in any way they can. With kids at school and workers returning to offices, cooking big breakfasts and lunches will be dropped, as there will be less time for consumers to cook from scratch in their kitchens.
The focus on familiarity also aligns with Canadians as home cooks tending to be creatures of comfort – preferring familiar recipes and using the same spices or seasonings when preparing food. Time savings aside, home cooks may be leaning more towards cooking things they know, as it provides a sense of comfort. In uncertain times, Canadians become less adventurous.
Regarding ingredients and packaging, Canadian consumers absolutely care about where and how foods are sourced, healthy ingredients and what kind of packaging they come in.
Brands that highlight localism and sustainability can engage Canadians by connecting with them over these food ingredient priorities. Localism describes how consumers are driven to buy from brands local to them that support local heritage and ways of life, and sustainability refers to how consumers are driven to embrace brands that aim to reduce food waste.
There is certainly a market for more natural ingredients among Canadians, with 71% of consumers stating that they would like to eat more naturally.1 Seasonal sourcing and natural messaging can be great selling points for brands which Canadians respond extremely well to.
Consumers aged 18-34 are significantly more likely to feel more strongly in favour of sustainable packaging and ethical sourcing.1 In fact, these feelings are so strong that younger consumers are typically more willing to pay more for sustainable and ethically sourced items. It can be important to note, however, that sustainability and ethics often do not trump cost. Consumers need food to survive, and with food inflation reaching record highs, brands should be prepared for consumers who are less willing to pay more for sustainably packaged and ethically sourced ingredients, especially if cheaper options are available.
1 Cooking in Canada – Canada – 2022, Mintel