The pandemic shaped Spaniards food-purchasing decisions in 2020

The lockdown and working from home that COVID-19 forced last year has also had its inescapable impact on food consumption habits, as Spaniards have had more time to cook, which has led them to recover more elaborate dishes.


The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has presented the "Report on food consumption in Spain 2020", which states that, compared to 2019, food expenditure (at- and out-of-home) stood at just over €100 billion (-3.2%), while the volume purchased grew by 4.4% to almost 35 billion kilos/liters (Fig. 1).

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Fig. 1. Total spending and volume of food purchases in Spain in 2020

The pandemic has had an inescapable impact on the eating habits of Spaniards and has led to a change in consumption. By staying at home for longer due to the restrictions, consumption was concentrated at home and ostensibly decreased in bars and restaurants, where it tends to have greater value added.

Per capita expenditure (inside and outside the home) fell to €2,383.49, 7.2% lower than in 2019, although volume consumption grew by 2.1% to 19.5 kilos/litres more per person (Fig.2).

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Fig. 2. Per capita consumption and expenditure

At-home consumption

The report shows an at-home expenditure of more than 79 billion euros (+14.2%) for a consumption of almost 32 billion kg/liters (+11.2%), with an average price increase of 2.7% (Fig. 3).

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Fig. 3. 2020 food spending in Spanish households

Per capita household consumption rose by 11% while expenditure rose by 14%.

Shopping basket composition

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Fig. 4. Shopping basket composition

As in previous years, fresh products were also the most consumed within the household in 2020. The consumption of potatoes and fresh vegetables and milk accounted for 43.8% of the total number of kilos consumed, although in value they barely reached 30%.

In contrast, meat and fish, which accounted for only 10.8% of the volume of kilos of food consumed, accounted for one third of the shopping basket budget.

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There was significant growth in the consumption staple foods such as flours and semolina (47.6%), pizza bases and pastry dough (28.1%), pulses (17.4%), sugar (17%), rice (11.2%) and pasta (9.6%). Olive oils increased by 16%. The consumption of products related to moments of leisure or pleasure, such as nuts, chocolate, coffee and infusions, also increased.

In terms of shopping channels, although supermarkets remain the preferred establishments, accounting for 47.6% of total food purchases, traditional shops have regained market share after years of decline, reaching 13.8% of market share.

Online shopping, which only accounts for 2.3% of the food retail share, increased by 61.5% in terms of sales volume over the course of 2020.

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A new feature of the 2020 report is the specific analysis of gluten-free and organic products. Gluten-free products account for only 3.1% of the total volume of food consumed. Organic production currently accounts for 3.6% of food demand.

Out-of-home consumption

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Fig. 5. Out-of-home consumption

The increase in consumption at-home did not compensate for the expenditure forgone in bars and restaurants. Per capita spending out-of-home was €667.22, almost €400 less than in 2019 .

The foods most consumed out-of-home were bread, meat, vegetables and bakery products.

Consumer trends

One of the consequences of households having more time to cook is more elaborated meals and the recovery of the traditional menu with a starter, main course and dessert, which in recent years had been relegated by the trend towards a single dish.

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In addition, the consumer has given more importance to the origin of food, to be concerned about buying fresh and local products.

The full report in Spanish:

Source: Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación