Part 1: Long Covid Diet – Analyzing 2019 to 2023 Food & Alcohol Spend Trends

Jun 12, 2024 | Macro Insights, No Bull Economics

Recent Food & Alcohol Consumption Trends Post Banner

Recent data provided by the USDA provides valuable insight into consumer food spending patterns by channel through 2023. Interestingly, the -6.3% y/y decline in total food spend during 2020 was double the -3% decline during the 2009 Great Recession. In any case, 2023 total food spend adjusted for inflation is up +43% since 2009 & up +16% since 2020. Maybe all this stress eating explains the huge demand for the GLP-1 weight loss meds?

Who Needs Restaurants?

  • The 2020 lockdowns demonstrated that Americans can sharply reduce their total food bills without starving to death by skipping the restaurants & choosing to cook at home instead.
  • During 2020, total food spend declined -6.3% y/y, reflecting a -15.2% decline in restaurant spending partially offset by a fairly typical+3.9% increase in food at home spending.
  • However, things have more than balanced out since covid, with total 2023 inflation adjusted food at home spend down -0.5% while total 2023 inflation adjusted food away from home spend is up +34%.

Long Covid Diet Graph

Drinking Away the Stress

  • The 2009 Great Recession didn’t drive Americans to drink nearly in the same way that covid sent people to the sauce. Total 2023 inflation adjusted alcohol spend is up +79% since 2009 & up +28% since 2020.

Total Alcohol Spend Graph

Source: Calculated by USDA, ERS from various sources, June 3, 2024.

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