People in Belgium turn to local products during pandemic

People in Belgium turn to local products during pandemic
A local organic store in Brussels. Credit: Helen Lyons/The Brussels Times

People living in Belgium are shopping for and eating more local and seasonal products since the start of the pandemic, and are overall becoming more aware of the origins of their food.

Nearly one in four consumers (23.6%) eat more local products since the coronavirus crisis, a study of 629 consumers conducted by Belgium's Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) published on Wednesday showed.

Meanwhile, one-fifth of the respondents indicated that they try to shop more in local stores, such as grocery shops, bakeries and butchers, and 14.2% indicate that they buy less food in supermarkets or hypermarkets than before.

FASFC already noted that consumers were increasingly turning to the short-chain for their purchases in 2020, the first pandemic year, and these latest figures show the trend is continuing.

More focus on quality and origin

At the same time, consumers indicate that they are becoming more aware of the food that ends up on their plates. Almost 20% of people indicated that, since the pandemic, they pay more attention to the origin and composition of food products.

Meanwhile, more than 20% are trying to eat more healthily since the coronavirus crisis began, and are more often opting for fresh and/or organic products.

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"These figures show how important food labelling and traceability throughout the food chain are - two indispensable elements for protecting our food and our health," the FASFC stated.

To ensure this is the case in Belgium, the agency's inspectors carry out approximately 500 controls on companies and foodstuffs every day. About 70,000 samples are taken each year, of which 96% to 98% comply with the legislation.

It also organises free training to help small food businesses understand the various food safety rules so they can better market their products in a food-safe way.

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