The sustained Covid-19 pandemic, described by some as a ‘black swan event’ has impacted the world in a huge number of ways, directly and indirectly. From the impact on global health systems, to supply chain disruption, ruined holidays, shattered families, deaths, business closures, shortages and restrictions on freedom, there are also the impacts on societal behaviours, personal priorities and mental health. These are far reaching and in many cases long-lasting, effecting society in ways that are still unknown.
Focusing more narrowly on the supply chain challenges, early on in the pandemic many countries saw an increase in panic buying of toilet roll, pasta and tinned goods, which people instinctively identified were wise purchases in the face of uncertainty and chaos.
Retailers struggled to cope with demand and started to ration certain quantities of items per customer to help spread out food and essential supplies evenly. This trend continued during the subsequent lockdowns, and has now openly revealed the fragility and volatility of our food supply chains nationally and globally.
This revelation has for many been accompanied by a loss in faith in politicians and political decision making and a newfound scepticism of the media, which has driven waves of change within societal perspectives.
The resulting implications have included increased personal re-prioritisations, attempts at self-sufficiency, relocations, job changes, and more generally a more risk-aware society.
But what proportion of UK households have actually changed their perspectives and behaviour? Have only a small proportion really changed, or were the changes only temporary? How many people are concerned about food shortages? Our UK survey helped answer some of these questions.
- 61% of people believe that another pandemic is likely or very likely to occur within the next 10-20 years
- 49% of people are either fairly worried or very worried about food supply shortages in the future
- 41% are concerned about food shortages within the next 3 months
- Only 17% of people have reverted to the buying habits they had before the pandemic
- 83% of people believe that the world is becoming a more and more dangerous place
These responses indicate that concern and risk-awareness is not niche, nor a significant minority, but actually a majority held perception.
But what proportion of UK households have actually built food reserves?
- 38% of households have purchased long-life food in case of an emergency. Note that there is a positive correlation with financial stability.
Until now, the focus on food preparedness had remained with ‘hard core preppers’ primarily in the USA, where a long established and growing prepping community has existed. However, since the global pandemic hit our food supply chains and created a general feeling of social and political unrest, what was once a very small niche (and far smaller in the UK) has suddenly gained a degree of mainstream traction.
As the pandemic and its consequences continue to ripple through our society, and with so much continued uncertainty, it is not surprising that households are attempting to balance the risks by taking constructive actions – and it makes sense to ensure we are all ready and able to support ourselves, our families (and where possible our communities) in the face of adversity.