Transcript: Has COVID-19 Changed How We Shop for Food? | Oct 21, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, checkered shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "A COVID-19 food shopping revolution? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IN THE EARLY-GOING IT WAS SOURDOUGH BREAD AND A LOT OF COOKIES. MORE RECENTLY, THE PANDEMIC-PROMPTED SHIFT IN OUR EATING HABITS INCLUDES EVERYTHING FROM FAMILY-STYLE FOOD KITS TO HOME CANNING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. IT'S BEEN AN ABRUPT TURNAROUND FROM THE KIND OF GRAB-AND-GO GROCERIES MANY OF US USED TO RELY ON. AND IF IT WAS A BIG CHANGE FOR US, IMAGINE WHAT IT MEANT FOR FOOD PRODUCERS AND RETAILERS? NO NEED TO IMAGINE. WE'VE GOT THREE EXPERTS HERE TO TELL US. IN HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA: SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS, SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR OF THE AGRI-FOOD ANALYTICS LAB AT DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY...

Sylvain is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short wavy brown hair. He's wearing glasses, a white shirt and a black tie.

Steve continues IN FERGUS, ONTARIO, JUST NORTHWEST OF GUELPH: JACKIE FRASER, OWNER OPERATOR OF THE FAMILY-RUN GROCERY STORE FRABERTS FRESH FOOD...

Jackie is in her thirties, with long curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray shirt.

Steve continues AND IN THE EAST END OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: MARION CHAN, PRINCIPAL OF TREND SPOTTER CONSULTING, WHICH SPECIALIZES IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR IN THE FOOD, BEVERAGE AND FOODSERVICE INDUSTRIES...

Marion is in her thirties, with long straight black hair. She's wearing a blue shirt.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE THE THREE OF YOU ON TVO TONIGHT. I JUST WANT TO START... MARION, MAYBE YOU CAN TAKE US UP TO THE PROVERBIAL 30,000-FOOT VANTAGE POINT, AND JUST TELL US, WHEN THE PANDEMIC FIRST HIT, HOW DID OUR SHOPPING, OUR FOOD SHOPPING HABITS, CHANGE?

The caption changes to "Marion Chan. Trendspotter Consulting."
Then, it changes again to "The pandemic wallop."

Marion says WELL, YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT, A LOT OF THE CONSUMERS WERE STRUCK BY PANIC AND WHAT THEY TRIED TO DO WAS THEY TRIED TO LOAD UP. SO WHEN WE FIRST STARTED, PEOPLE WERE LOADING UP ON A LOT OF THE RAW INGREDIENTS, ON THE STAPLES, ON THINGS LIKE FLOUR AND TOILET PAPER, AND WE'VE ALL HEARD THIS STORY ABOUT TOILET PAPER. AND PARTLY IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE OF TRYING TO BE SAFE AND BE... HAVE EVERYTHING THAT THEY'RE GOING TO NEED FOR THE LONG-TERM, BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH AN UNKNOWN ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN, HOW LONG THEY WERE GOING TO BE IN THIS SITUATION. SO A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST BOUGHT A LOT OF FOOD. I DON'T THINK THAT THEY REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT KIND OF FOOD THAT THEY WERE BUYING. THEY WERE JUST GRABBING WHATEVER THEY COULD. AND SO AS A RESULT, A LOT OF THE SHELF-STABLE STUFF LIKE, YOU KNOW, ALL OF THE BAKING INGREDIENTS AND VEGETABLES AND APPARENTLY FROZEN PIZZAS HAD A BIG RUN. BUT THE PROBLEM WITH FROZEN FOOD IS THAT THERE'S ONLY SO MUCH SPACE IN YOUR FREEZER. SO THERE WERE... I'M NOT SURE PEOPLE WERE REALLY THINKING THAT CLEARLY AT THE VERY, VERY BEGINNING ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE BUYING.

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. JACKIE, BEFORE I ASK YOU THE NEXT QUESTION. YOU'RE LAST NAME IS FRASER. WHAT'S YOUR HUSBAND'S LAST NAME?

Jackie says IS ROBERT. THAT'S WHERE THE NAME FRABERT.

Steve says IT'S AN AMALGAMATION OF BOTH OF YOUR NAMES. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT?

The caption changes to "Jackie Fraser. Fraberts Fresh Food."

Jackie says OUR SALES MORE THAN DOUBLED OVERNIGHT. WE DIDN'T REALLY KNOW HOW TO EXPECT HOW IT WAS GOING TO PLAY OUT FOR US. BUT SAME THING, WE SAW THE RUN ON THE STAPLES. SO IT WAS THE POTATOES, THE CARROTS, THE GROUND BEEF, THE PASTA, AND ALSO FROZEN AND CANNED GOODS, WE WERE FRABERT'S FRESH FOODS. WE QUICKLY PIVOTED REALIZING THAT WAS A MARKET WE NEEDED TO TAP INTO. AND IT WAS JUST PRETTY WILD IN GENERAL. ANOTHER THING WE SAW IN THE VERY EARLY DAYS WAS SUDDENLY PEOPLE WERE EATING BREAKFAST AT HOME, SO IT WAS EGGS AND IT WAS BREAD AND BANANAS AND YOGHURT, SO A BIG RUN ON THOSE ITEMS. AND AT ABOUT ONE TO TWO WEEKS INTO THE PANDEMIC, THE BAKING CRAZE BEGAN. WE USED TO SELL A HANDFUL OF BAGS OF LOCALLY GROUND FLOUR PER WEEK, AND SUDDENLY WE WERE FLOUR CENTRAL AND SELLING IT BY THE 10-KILO BAG THAT WOULD NORMALLY BE SOLD TO KITCHENS. WE STARTED SELLING YEAST. WE HAD NEVER SOLD YEAST BEFORE. AND WE WERE THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN FOR QUITE A WHILE WITH YEAST. IT WAS PRETTY WILD. WE HAD TO PIVOT, MAKE CHANGES FAST...

Steve says DID YOU HAVE TO HIRE MORE PEOPLE?

Jackie says ABSOLUTELY. WE HAD SOME STAFF THAT NEEDED TO SELF-ISOLATE. WE BROUGHT ON STAFF QUICKLY. THANK GOODNESS WE HAD JUST HIRED A NEW STORE MANAGER JUST BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT. HIS FIRST DAY WAS MARCH 18TH BUT HE CAME FROM A BIG GROCERY STORE SO HE HIT THE GROUND RUNNING. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE WITH HIM. WE WORKED SEVEN DAYS A WEEK FOR THREE TO FOUR MONTHS DURING THE BEGINNING BECAUSE IT WAS REALLY QUITE WILD.

Steve says LET ME DO ONE QUICK FOLLOW-UP WITH YOU. YOU WALKED INTO THE STORE A MONTH OR TWO INTO THE PANDEMIC, HOW WOULD IT HAVE LOOKED DIFFERENT AND HOW WOULD THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT FROM WHAT PEOPLE WOULD HAVE SEEN BEFORE MARCH 13TH?

Jackie says LOTS OF CHANGES. SO WE MOVED A LOT OF THINGS AROUND THE STORE SO WE COULD HAVE ONE-WAY TRAFFIC. WE HAD AN INDOOR AND AN OUTDOOR. WE REORGANIZED ALL OF OUR BANQUETTES, WE WERE SPRAYING DOWN THE CARTS AND BINS AFTER EVERY USE. A LOT OF CHANGES IN THE STORE. ALSO A CHANGE IN PRODUCT. WE PIVOTED ON THAT AND BROUGHT IN PRODUCTS WE HADN'T SOLD BEFORE BECAUSE WE WANTED TO MAKE IT AS CONVENIENT FOR SHOPPERS AS POSSIBLE AND KEEP THEM SAFE AND BE AS MUCH OF A ONE-STOP SHOP AS WE COULD.

Steve says GOTCHA. SYLVAIN, I WANT TO LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE AND DRAW ON YOUR EXPERTISE ON THAT. BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, PEOPLE OBVIOUSLY ATE OUT AT RESTAURANTS AND COOKED MEALS AT HOME. WHAT WAS THE RATIO, THE PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE, BEFORE PANDEMIC?

The caption changes to "Sylvain Charlebois. Agri-Food Analytics Lab."

Sylvain says IT SEEMS LIKE A LONG TIME AGO. BUT BEFORE MARCH, A TYPICAL HOUSEHOLD WAS SPENDING ABOUT 38 percent OF ITS BUDGET ON FOOD PROCESSED AND CONSUMED OUTSIDE THE HOME. SO WE WERE LOOKING AT A 38-62 SPLIT BETWEEN RETAIL AND SERVICE. THAT SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGED IN MARCH AND APRIL. WE WENT FROM 38-62 TO 9-91. AND THAT'S WHY WE SAW A LOT OF PANIC BUYING. SO THIS TSUNAMI COMING FROM FOOD SERVICE, WHICH WAS REALLY COLLAPSING AT THE TIME, THAT'S 95 BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF BUSINESS, IT WENT FROM ONE SECTOR TO ANOTHER, AND RETAILERS LIKE JACKIE HAD TO DEAL WITH THIS TSUNAMI. AND THE OTHER THING THAT WE SHOULD UNDERSCORE HERE IS THE VIRUS ITSELF, BACK IN MARCH, WE WENT THROUGH THIS MOMENT IN TIME JUST BECAUSE WE DIDN'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE VIRUS REALLY, WE DIDN'T KNOW HOW PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS WERE GOING TO REACT TO THE VIRUS AND A LOT OF PEOPLE WENT TO THE GROCERY STORE WITHOUT KNOWING REALLY WHEN WILL BE THE NEXT TIME THEY WILL BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO THE GROCERY STORE. THAT'S WHY THERE WAS A LOT OF STUFF GOING ON THERE.

Steve says NOW, THIS MAY BE OBVIOUS, SO FORGIVE ME IF THIS IS A DUMB QUESTION. BUT ARE PEOPLE ESSENTIALLY SPENDING THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, THEY'RE JUST SPENDING IT IN DIFFERENT PLACES?

Sylvain says SO A YEAR AGO, WE ACTUALLY PREDICTED THAT THE AVERAGE FAMILY WAS TO SPEND ABOUT 12,600 dollars FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. THAT WOULD INCLUDE SERVICE AND RETAIL. BUT HERE'S THE THING, STEVE. WHEN YOU SPEND MONEY IN A RESTAURANT, IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME MONEY AS YOU ARE SPENDING IN A RETAIL STORE. THERE'S ABOUT A 40 percent RATIO. SO YOU HAVE TO SPEND 1.40 AT THE RESTAURANT IN ORDER TO GET THE SAME VOLUME OF FOOD AT RETAIL. AND SO EVEN THOUGH FOOD PRICES ARE GOING UP 3 TO 4 PERCENT RIGHT NOW, WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT THE AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD IS SPENDING LESS MONEY ON FOOD COMPARED TO LAST YEAR.

Steve says OKAY. SO NOT SUCH A DUMB QUESTION AFTER ALL. I'M GRATEFUL TO FIND OUT...

Sylvain says NO, IT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

Steve says GOOD. MARION, BACK TO YOU ON THIS. YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY LOTS OF PEOPLE, I GUESS PARTICULARLY... WELL, LISTEN, I WON'T MAKE ANY ASSUMPTIONS HERE. I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT THE MORE SINGLE YOU ARE OR THE YOUNGER YOU ARE, THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO SORT OF EAT OUT OR EAT FAST FOOD AS OPPOSED TO COOK FOR YOURSELF AT HOME. DID A LOT OF THE POPULATION HAVE TO ADJUST TO KIND OF FIGURING OUT HOW TO COOK FOR THEMSELVES, IN SOME CASES FOR THE FIRST TIME?

The caption changes to "Marion Chan, @chantrendspottr."

Marion says OH, FOR SURE. I MEAN, I THINK THAT IF YOU WERE TO LOOK AT ANY GOOGLE SET, YOU WOULD SEE THAT YouTube VIDEOS AND RECIPE SITES AND ANYTHING THAT WAS GOING TO HELP PEOPLE LEARN HOW TO COOK A LITTLE BIT MORE, THEY WERE REALLY VERY POPULAR BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THE MILLENNIALS, THEY LIKE TO COOK, BUT THEY'RE NOT REALLY... THEY'RE NOT REALLY SAVVY, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY WERE WORKING ALL THE TIME. IT WAS REALLY HARD FOR THEM TO SPEND VERY MUCH TIME COOKING. SO NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY HAVE ALL THIS TIME. THEY'VE GOT ALL OF THIS... ALL THESE GROCERIES THAT THEY NEED TO COOK. SO THEY DID REALLY TAKE HOLD OF THAT. AND FOR THOSE WITH FAMILIES, IT WAS PART OF THAT EMOTIONAL COMFORT OF BEING ABLE TO COOK FOR YOUR FAMILY, YOU'RE PREPARING... I CALL IT THE STIRRING EFFECT, WHICH IN THE PAST WAS MORE ABOUT TAKING SOMETHING REALLY SIMPLE, AND THE SIMPLE ACT OF STIRRING MADE IT YOURS. BUT NOW IT PROVIDED MORE OF A COMFORT IN A VERY UNCERTAIN TIME SO THAT PEOPLE COULD FEEL GOOD ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE COOKING FOR THEIR FAMILY, AND MEALS BECAME MORE ELABORATE. HOWEVER, IF YOU'RE A SINGLE PERSON, WHAT DO YOU COOK? YOU DON'T HAVE ANYBODY TO CARE FOR. YOU'RE COOKING FOR YOURSELF, WHICH ISN'T A LOT OF FUN. SO THERE WERE WAYS THAT THEY WERE WORKING AROUND IT, OF TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO COOK LARGER MEALS PERHAPS AND KEEPING IT FROZEN, BUT I THINK THAT THERE WERE... THERE'S A LOT OF LEARNING GOING ON IN TERMS OF, HOW DO I COOK? AND THIS COULD BE SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO CONTINUE ON BECAUSE ONCE THEY KNOW HOW, THEY CAN KEEP DOING IT, AND IT BECOMES EASIER AND IT'S NOT GOING TO TAKE AS LONG.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP ON THAT, BECAUSE AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS PANDEMIC, IT SEEMED WHEREVER YOU TURNED, SOMEBODY WAS BAKING A CAKE OR BAKING BREAD... LIKE, PEOPLE WERE BAKING STUFF, PEOPLE WHO HAD NEVER BAKED BEFORE. HOW DID THAT SUDDENLY BECOME A THING?

Marion says WELL, YOU KNOW, I THINK BAKING IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT HAS, AGAIN, GOING BOOK TO THE WHOLE EMOTIONAL COMPONENT, IS THAT IT HAS THAT WARMTH AND IT'S THAT COMFORT, AND BAKING NOT ONLY PROVIDES... YOU KNOW, IT COMES OUT AS SOMETHING DELICIOUS, BUT YOU END UP FEELING REALLY... IT'S LIKE AN EMOTIONAL WARM BLANKET. AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN. IT'S SOMETHING YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN. IT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO TEACH, HELP TEACH WITH YOUR KIDS, AND KEEP THEM OCCUPIED. SO IT HAS A LOT OF BOTH, YOU KNOW, VARIOUS EMOTIONAL AND FUNCTIONAL COMPONENTS TO IT THAT ALLOWED PEOPLE TO FILL IN THE TIME WITH THEIR FAMILY AND HAVE A RESULT THAT WAS GOING TO BE EDIBLE.

Steve says IN MOST CASES. LET ME ASK...

Marion says HOPEFULLY.

The caption changes to "Trends emerge."

Steve says SYLVAIN ABOUT THE LONG-RANGE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT. SYLVAIN, YOU HAVE A SOCIETY ALL OF A SUDDEN THAT'S EATING A LOT MORE SUGAR, THAT'S BAKING A LOT MORE SWEETS, AND THE GYMS ARE ALL CLOSED. AND EVERYBODY HAS... I MEAN, MOST PEOPLE I'VE TALKED TO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THEY'VE ALL PUT WEIGHT ON DURING THE COURSE OF THIS PANDEMIC BECAUSE THEY CAN'T EXERCISE AS MUCH. SO TAKE US DOWN THE ROAD. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS TIME IN HISTORY AND THESE NEW HABITS THAT WE'VE CREATED?

The caption changes to "Sylvain Charlebois, @FoodProfessor. Dalhousie University."

Sylvain says WELL, WE'VE ALL BEEN UNBALANCED BY WHAT HAPPENED. I MEAN, LET'S FACE IT. COVID CAME VIOLENTLY INTO OUR LIVES. EVERYONE'S LIVES HAVE BEEN DISRUPTED BY COVID ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. AND I STILL... SEVEN, EIGHT MONTHS INTO THIS PANDEMIC, I STILL FEEL THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE STILL STRUGGLING WITH THIS IMBALANCE THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH AND OUR DAILY ROUTINES HAVE CHANGED. A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE WORKING FROM HOME. AND WHEN YOU WORK FROM HOME, YOU'RE CLOSE TO THE KITCHEN, THE HEART OF THE HOUSE, BUT YOU'RE CLOSER TO THE KITCHEN, YOU'RE CLOSER TO FOOD AND YOU'RE NOT MOVING AS MUCH. COMMUTING REQUIRES ENERGY. WELL, YOU'RE NOT COMMUTING AS MUCH ANYMORE. AND SO ALL THESE THINGS ARE ADDING UP. THE ONE THING THAT I HAD ADD TO THE COOKING COMMENT THAT I'VE JUST HEARD IS THAT PEOPLE STARTED TO GARDEN WAY MORE. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS PANDEMIC GARDENING. IN ONTARIO THE GARDENING RATE WAS BELOW 30 percent BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. IT WENT UP TO 47 percent THIS YEAR. BECAUSE OF BOREDOM, WE WERE HOME, AND FRANKLY, TO MARION'S POINT, I MEAN, PEOPLE WANTED TO TAKE CONTROL OVER THEIR LIVES. THEY WANTED TO FEEL MORE FOOD SECURE. AND SO WHY NOT VERTICALLY INTEGRATE AS A HOUSEHOLD, AS YOU PROCESS YOUR FOOD IN THE KITCHEN, YOU CAN ALSO WOULD INTEGRATE AND GROW YOUR OWN AS WELL AND THAT IS WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE SPRING.

Steve says JACKIE YOU TOLD US HOW YOU HAD TO TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESS VIRTUALLY OVERNIGHT TO ACCOMMODATE THE REALITIES OF COVID-19. HOW ABOUT ONLINE SHOPPING? HOW MUCH OF YOUR BUSINESS BEFORE WAS ONLINE AND HOW MUCH OF IT IS ONLINE NOW?

Jackie says BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, ZERO PERCENT WAS ONLINE. WE WERE AN EXPERIENCE IN ITSELF. PEOPLE LIKED TO COME AND SHOP IN OUR STORE. AND ESPECIALLY A LOT OF THE PRODUCTS WE SELL, LIKE FRESH PRODUCE. A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE TO SMELL, TOUCH, AND FEEL. THEY LIKE TO DO THAT IN-HOUSE. WE, ABOUT SIX MONTHS BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT, WE HAD SIGNED ON WITH A THIRD PARTY DELIVERY SERVICE, MRS. GROCERY.COM, AND THANK GOODNESS WE WERE WITH THEM. BECAUSE THAT OVERNIGHT BECAME HUGE. WE WENT FROM MAYBE A HANDFUL OF DELIVERIES PER WEEK TO DOZENS EVERY DAY. SO WE WERE VERY GRATEFUL THAT WE COULD HIT THE GROUND RUNNING WITH THAT SERVICE. YOU KNOW, THEN WE STARTED THE CURBSIDE OPTION. AND THAT WAS... I MEAN, THE EARLY DAYS, WE WERE DOING THAT... THE FIRST FEW DAYS WE WERE DOING THAT OVER THE PHONE, WHICH WAS RIDICULOUS. IT WAS AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER. SO WE QUICKLY GOT A SPECIFIC EMAIL ADDRESS THAT PEOPLE COULD SEND THEIR ORDERS TO, AND WE WERE ABLE TO KEEP DOING SAME-DAY CURBSIDE, WHICH OUR CUSTOMERS REALLY WERE GRATEFUL FOR BECAUSE MOST STORES WEREN'T ABLE TO DO THAT IN THE BEGINNING. SO THANKFULLY ALSO WE WERE BEGINNING TO SET UP AN ONLINE SHOP, SO WE JUST SPED THAT UP RIGHT AWAY, AND NOW PEOPLE CAN DO CURBSIDE THROUGH AN ACTUAL ONLINE SHOP ON OUR WEBSITE. SO IT DID. IT TOTALLY TRANSFORMED US FROM ZERO PERCENT TO MAYBE WE'RE SOMEWHERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF 5 percent NOW. IT'S STILL A SMALL COMPONENT. IN THE EARLY DAYS, WE WERE PROBABLY UP AROUND 10 percent. BUT LIKE I SAY, BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, IT WAS ZERO PERCENT. SO IT'S BEEN A BIG, BIG CHANGE.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says GOTCHA. SYLVAIN, YOU HAVE A BIG STUDY COMING OUT TOMORROW ON SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE POST-PANDEMIC, AND I GATHER WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PREVAIL UPON YOU TO SCOOP YOURSELF WITH ONE GRAPHIC FROM YOUR STUDY, AND TO THAT END... THERE WE ARE. THANK YOU, SHELDON. WE HAVE IT RIGHT NOW. I WONDER IF YOU COULD TAKE US THROUGH THIS CHART WHICH ESSENTIALLY ASKS PEOPLE, HOW MUCH OF A PREMIUM ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY FOR LOCALLY GROWN FRESH PRODUCE? FOR THOSE LISTENING ON PODCAST AND WHO CAN'T READ THE CHART, LET ME JUST READ OUT SOME OF THE NUMBERS HERE.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "How much premium are you willing to pay for locally grown fresh produce?"

Steve reads data from the slate and says
7 percent OF PEOPLE ARE PREPARED TO PAY 20 TO 40 percent MORE. ABOUT A THIRD OF THE PEOPLE ARE PREPARED TO PAY 10 TO 20 percent MORE. A LITTLE MORE THAN A THIRD ARE PREPARED TO PAY LESS THAN 10 percent MORE. AND YOU'VE GOT FULLY 20.5 percent OF THE PEOPLE WHO SAY I AM UNWILLING TO PAY A PREMIUM.

Sylvain says YEAH, SO THE WHOLE IDEA OF THIS REPORT IS TO LOOK AT FOOD AUTONOMY. AS A LAB, WE'VE BEEN WORKING WITH A FEW PROVINCES, INCLUDING QUEBEC AND NEW BRUNSWICK, LOOKING AT HOW WE CAN PRODUCE MORE FOOD ALL YEAR ROUND, AND IF THERE IS ANY APPETITE... NO PUN... FOR LOCAL FOODS. AND WHAT DOES LOCAL FOOD MEAN? AND BY THE WAY, I'VE BEEN TO JACKIE'S STORE A FEW TIMES WHEN I WAS LIVING IN GUELPH. IT'S JUST AN OUTSTANDING STORE AND I KNOW THEY'VE BEEN CHAMPIONING LOCAL FOOD. BUT LOCAL MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE. AND THAT'S WHAT WE LOOKED AT. NOW, WITH THE GRAPH YOU JUST SHOWED, WE ACTUALLY LOOKED AT THE WILLINGNESS FOR PEOPLE TO PAY FOR LOCAL FOOD BECAUSE TYPICALLY LOCAL FOODS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE... NOT ALWAYS, BUT MORE EXPENSIVE. AND IF YOU ARE TO USE CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGIES, IT WILL LIKELY COST MORE. SO YOU SEE RIGHT NOW THAT PEOPLE ARE WILLING TO PAY MORE FOR LOCAL FOOD. BUT THE OTHER THING THAT WE'VE NOTICED IN OUR STUDY IS THAT IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN THAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES EITHER. BUT WE'RE NOT CONVINCED, AND OF COURSE THIS IS ALL ABOUT MOTHERHOOD AND APPLE PIE. DURING SURVEYS, A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL ANSWER IN A POSITIVE WAY, BUT IT DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT'S GOING ON IN A STORE. AND I SUSPECT THAT JACKIE WOULD KNOW THIS. PRICE IS THE BIGGEST BARRIER. I MEAN, ESPECIALLY RIGHT NOW DURING A RECESSION, YET YOU HEAR CAMPAIGNS LIKE FOODLAND ONTARIO ADVOCATING OR TELLING PEOPLE TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY. WELL, IT IS UNREASONABLE TO ASK PEOPLE TO SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL ECONOMY WHEN THEIR BUDGET HAS BEEN TIGHTENED AS A RESULT OF RECESSION OR MAYBE THEY'VE LOST THEIR JOBS? SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO WORK ON. AND WHAT WE'VE BEEN ADVOCATING, WE'VE BEEN TELLING DIFFERENT PROVINCES THAT IF YOU ARE TO PUSH LOCAL FOODS, MAKE IT AFFORDABLE.

Steve says JACKIE, WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THIS ISSUE OF WHETHER PEOPLE ARE PREPARED TO PAY A PREMIUM FOR MORE LOCAL?

Jackie says YEAH. I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY I CAN ONLY SPEAK ANECDOTALLY AND MY CLIENTELE, I MEAN, ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS THAT THEY SHOP AT OUR STORE IS BECAUSE WE OFFER LOCAL FOOD. SO WE TEND TO CATER TO THE LOCAL BOARDS THAT DON'T MIND SPENDING A LITTLE BIT MORE FOR LOCAL. WE DID HAVE... I THINK STRAWBERRIES OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD WAS A COMMODITY THAT STAYED A LITTLE HIGHER IN PRICE THROUGHOUT THE SEASON BECAUSE OF LABOUR SHORTAGES AND EVERYTHING ELSE, AND OUR CUSTOMERS, YOU KNOW, THERE WAS SOME COMMENTARY ABOUT THE PRICE, BUT THEY WERE WILLING. BUT, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, I WOULD SAY MY CLIENTELE ARE PROBABLY NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE POPULATION AT LARGE.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. LET'S TRY ANOTHER CHART HERE. NOW, THIS ONE GOES BACK... SHELDON, THIS IS THE ANGUS REID CHART ON THE TOP OF PAGE 4 AND THIS ONE GOES BACK TO MAY. AGAIN, LOTS OF NUMBERS HERE. JUST LEAVE THIS UP FOR A SECOND AND I'LL TAKE PEOPLE WHO CAN'T SEE THIS ON PODCAST, I'M GOING TO TAKE PEOPLE OVER THIS.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "When the pandemic is over, what do you intend to do more of, if anything?"

Steve reads data from the slate and says
WHEN THE PANDEMIC IS OVER, WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO DO MORE OF, IF ANYTHING? IN THE GROUP AGED 18 TO 34, MORE THAN HALF SAY THEY'RE GOING TO COOK MORE AT HOME WHEN THIS PANDEMIC IS OVER. THAT'S ACTUALLY THE NUMBER ONE ANSWER REGARDLESS OF DEMOGRAPHIC. IF YOU GO TO THE 35 TO 54 DEMOGRAPHIC, WHICH IS THOSE MIDDLE BARS, AGAIN A LARGER PERCENTAGE BY A LONG WAY SAY WE ARE GOING TO COOK MORE AT HOME. OVER 65, AGAIN, THE LARGEST PERCENTAGE, 40 percent, SAY THEY'RE GOING TO COOK MORE AT HOME. IT'S A MUCH SMALLER NUMBER... YOU WOULD THINK, I GUESS, WITH NOBODY ALLOWED TO GO TO RESTAURANTS THESE DAYS, AT LEAST IN THE FOUR MAJOR PANDEMIC AREAS IN THE PROVINCE, TORONTO, OTTAWA, PEEL, AND YORK, YOU WOULD THINK THERE WOULD BE THIS EXPLOSION OF PEOPLE WANTING TO GO TO RESTAURANTS, BUT THAT IS A DISTANT SECOND IN EVERYBODY'S RESPONSES. NOW, ADMITTEDLY, THIS IS MAY. THINGS MAY HAVE CHANGED NOW THAT WE'RE IN OCTOBER. MARION, LET ME GO TO YOU ON THAT. THIS NOTION THAT PEOPLE, ONCE THE PANDEMIC IS OVER, ARE GOING TO COOK A LOT MORE AT HOME, THIS TREND WE'RE SEEING NOW CONTINUING. ARE YOU BUYING?

The caption changes to "Lasting effects."

Marion says DEFINITELY. I MEAN, I THINK THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO COOK MORE. I MEAN, OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE COOKING AT HOME ARE GOING TO TAPER OFF BECAUSE, LET'S FACE IT, THE REASON THAT WE HAVE CONVENIENCE FOODS AND THE REASON THAT IT EXPLODED IS BECAUSE IT WAS A NEED. IT FILLED THE VOID OF HAVING TIME TO BE ABLE TO PREPARE YOUR OWN MEALS. HOWEVER, WHEN PEOPLE LEARN HOW TO COOK AND THEY'RE LEARNING... IT TAKES THEM AWAY FROM THE WHOLE COOKING PROCESS AND IT BECOMES A LITTLE EASIER EVERY TIME THEY DO IT AND OVER 8 MONTHS THEY'VE BEEN DOING IT AT HOME EVERY DAY, MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY, SO IT WILL BECOME EASIER. THEY'LL HAVE A REPERTOIRE OF THINGS THAT THEY CAN COOK EASILY AND THEY'LL BE ABLE TO DO IT AND THEY'LL BECOME PROFICIENT AND THEN THEY'LL INCREASE THEIR REPERTOIRE. HOWEVER, AS I SAID BEFORE, AS THINGS... AS PEOPLE GO BACK TO WORK AND THEIR DAILY ROUTINES BECOME MORE SET AND THEIR CHILDREN BECOME INVOLVED IN ACTIVITIES IN WHATEVER WAY THAT THEY CAN BE INVOLVED, TIME IS GOING TO START TO SHRINK AND THOSE CONVENIENCE FOODS ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE THEM WITH THE ABILITY TO PROVIDE QUICK, EASY MEALS. BUT I DEFINITELY DO STILL THINK THAT THERE'S GOING TO BE MORE HOME COOKING AND SCRATCH COOKING AT HOME THAN THERE USED TO BE.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON THE RESTAURANT ANGLE HERE, AND TO THAT END, I WANT TO PLAY A CLIP FROM, THIS IS JOHN SINOPOLI, THE EXECUTIVE CHEF AND OWNER OF A RESTAURANT GROUP. WE HAD HIM ON HOW RESTAURANTS ARE HOPING TO SURVIVE THIS PANDEMIC. HERE IS A SNIPPET OF WHAT HE HAD TO SAY. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "May 27, 2020. John Sinopoli."

In the clip, John speaks on screen. He's in his late forties, bald, with a full beard.

He says I THINK MANY RESTAURANTS ARE GOING TO SHIFT INTO BEING MORE MARKETPLACES BECAUSE YOU CAN'T FILL YOUR SPACE WITH SEATS ALL THE WAY, YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO FILL IT WITH PRODUCT, FOR PEOPLE TO COME IN, PURCHASE SOMETHING PREMADE, PREDONE, READY TO GO AT HOME, AND LIKE MORE OF A REALLY HIGH-END PREPARED FOOD SHOP BECAUSE YOUR BRAND ALREADY EXISTS IN TERMS OF THE EXPERIENCE YOU PROVIDE.

The clip ends.

Steve says SYLVAIN, LET ME GO TO YOU ON THIS BECAUSE I WAS A LITTLE SURPRISED THAT THE NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS WHO SAID, YES, WE CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK OUT TO RESTAURANTS AND EAT OUT AGAIN AFTER BASICALLY BEING DEPRIVED OF THAT EXPERIENCE FOR THE LAST 8 MONTHS, IT'S A RELATIVELY SMALL NUMBER. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT PORTENDS FOR RESTAURANTS GOING FORWARD?

Sylvain says THE WAY WE SEE FOOD SERVICE RIGHT NOW, FOOD SERVICE IS AT ABOUT 65 percent OF WHAT IT WAS BEFORE COVID. SO WE ARE EXPECTING MANY RESTAURANTS TO CLOSE. IN FACT, A LOT OF THEM HAVE CLOSED ALREADY, INCLUDING THE GTA. BUT THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF PIVOTING GOING ON, AND THIS IS THE ONE TERM THAT WE'VE HEARD A LOT DURING THIS PANDEMIC, AND RESTAURANTS ARE DOING JUST THAT, AND THERE'S A LOT OF FOOD BROKERING, I WOULD SAY, ALSO. WE'RE SEEING GROCERS PARTNERING WITH RESTAURANTS AND SELLING MEAL KITS FOR RESTAURANTS TO CONSUMERS. PC CHEF IS JUST ONE EXAMPLE. IT'S BEEN ANNOUNCED RECENTLY, THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON WITHIN THE SUPPLY CHAIN THAT WOULD ALLOW FOOD SERVICE TO HAVE ACCESS TO SOME OPPORTUNITIES. ESSENTIALLY WITH COVID WE WERE TALKING FOR MANY YEARS ABOUT THIS BLURRING LINE BETWEEN FOOD SERVICE AND FOOD RETAIL. WELL, COVID HAS BLOWN EVERYTHING UP. THERE IS NO LINE ANYMORE. AND I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO NOTICE THAT.

Steve says JACKIE, I'M DOWN TO MY LAST MINUTE HERE. ARE YOU ALREADY OR ARE YOU LOOKING INTO PARTNERING WITH LOCAL RESTAURANTS IN THE WAY THAT SYLVAIN JUST DESCRIBED?

Jackie says ACTUALLY OUR LOCAL RESTAURANTS HAVE PIVOTED AND DONE FANTASTICALLY WELL. WE DID REACH OUT TO THEM IN THE EARLY DAYS AND SAID HOW CAN WE HELP YOU? WE'RE ALLOWED TO BE OPEN. WE RECOGNIZE YOU'RE NOT. WE'RE SO GRATEFUL TO BE OPEN WHEN YOU CANNOT BE AND HOW CAN WE HELP? WE HAD A LOCAL FLOWER SHOP THAT WAS GOING TO LOSE HER MOTHER'S DAY. AND WE OPENED UP OUR SPACE TO SELL HER FLOWERS FOR MOTHER'S DAY BECAUSE WE COULD. SO THERE ARE WAYS THAT THE COMMUNITY WAS TRYING TO HELP EACH OTHER IN DIFFERENT WAYS BUT THAT IS AN EXCELLENT POINT. WE DID SELL MEAL KITS FOR A RESTAURANT IN WATERLOO FOR A WHILE, BUT, YEAH, IT WAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO HELP AND KNOWING THAT WE WERE VERY FORTUNATE TO BE ABLE TO BE OPEN DURING THOSE TIMES.

Steve says MARION, IN JUST A FEW SECONDS, DO YOU ANTICIPATE FOOD SHORTAGES GOING FORWARD?

Marion says I THINK THAT THE MANUFACTURERS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO GEAR UP. THE PROBLEM IS IT'S THE BALANCE BETWEEN LARGE SIZES AND SMALL SIZES. SO HOW DO YOU GET THAT RIGHT BALANCE OF PEOPLE WHO REALLY WANT TO BUY BULK AND PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY THE NORMAL SIZES. DEPENDING HOW THINGS ROLL OUT, NOBODY REALLY KNOWS, YOU KNOW, HOW LONG WILL THE TIME WHERE WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO LINE UP TO GET INTO GROCERY STORES, IS IT GOING TO GO BACK TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE IN APRIL AND MAY, OR ARE WE GOING TO BE ABLE TO KIND OF WANDER IN, BUY WHAT WE NEED, AND COME OUT? SO IT'S REALLY ABOUT PACK SIZE AT THIS STAGE AND WHAT'S GOING TO BE THE BEST... THERE WILL STILL BE SOME SHORTAGES, THOUGH, I EXPECT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says YOU THREE ARE DONE. GO BAKE SOME BREAD OR SOMETHING, OKAY? SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS, JACKIE FRASER, MARION CHAN, GOOD OF ALL OF YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT. THANKS SO MUCH.

Jackie says THANK YOU.

Watch: Has COVID-19 Changed How We Shop for Food?