Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

YouGov Covid-19 public polling

5th June 2020

This research, commissioned with the Food Foundation and YouGov, shows that we’re now seeing radical lifestyle changes at the drop of a hat.

The poll finds a majority (85%) want to see some of the personal or social changes they have experienced continue afterwards, whilst just 9% want everything to go back to how it was before the pandemic.

It also identifies significant changes to our relationship with food, family and the environment:

  • Social bonds are stronger, with 40% feeling a stronger sense of local community and 39% more in touch with friends and family
  • 42% say the outbreak has changed how they value food as an essential, and one in ten have shared something like food or shopping with a neighbour for the first time
  • More than 19 million of us (38%) say they are cooking more from scratch and 17 million are throwing away less food (33%). 6% (and 9% of Londoners), 3 million people have tried a veg box scheme or ordered food from a local farm for the very first time
  • 51% say they have noticed cleaner air, and 27% more wildlife since the outbreak began
  • Although 9% feel fitter and 27% are getting more exercise, more people (36%) say they are getting less exercise than before.

- See the full dataset.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4343 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 9th April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Calculations were made by the FFCC using mid-year population estimates.

The figures on whether people want things to return (9%) or to change (85%) after the pandemic have been adjusted to include only the respondents (3649) who selected one answer option to this question.


Comment from Sue Pritchard:

As we are having to spend more time at home, restrict our shopping and stop socialising, we’ve noticed the air is cleaner, there is more wildlife. How we value food is changing, we’re cooking more from scratch and sourcing our food from different places. Three million people have tried a veg box scheme or are buying direct-from-farm both to get what we need and to support the local community.

That we have all had to adapt so fast reflects in part how brittle parts of our food system have become. Farmers and others in food industry are now ‘keyworkers’, but our supply chains leave little wriggle room and most of our farmers rely on very few routes to market. If those fail, they can’t sell their produce, and consumers and producers lose out. The sight of dairy farmers having to throw milk away, whilst some families are struggling to afford enough of the nutritious food they need is, rightly, shocking.

Should we be importing less and growing more food at home, and how should we sell it for a fairer price? Food security at a national level is a strategic priority for government and the UK has the capability to become the world-leader in healthy, sustainable food production. Farmers can be a force for wider economic, public health and environmental benefits. Local supply networks and community groups are making what could be lasting changes with scant infrastructure and resources. What role could they play in the recovery phase and longer term in ensuring rural economies thrive? How do we secure more investment for ecological farming systems, producing healthy food while enhancing the environment, and strengthening communities?


We are collecting and documenting all the ways in which people are responding across the UK – to show how the food and farming sectors adapt and the effect the pandemic is having on rural communities. If you have a story to tell please share it with us on https://roadtorenewal.co.uk/



Note: this research was originally published on the RSA website (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), which hosted the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission between November 2017-April 2020.