Food Insecurity Experienced in Asia Pacific During Pandemic
68% of those who have faced food insecurity dealt with it for the first time
HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 29 April 2021 - Almost 7 in 10 Asia Pacific consumers who have faced "food insecurity" at some point in their lives experienced it for the first time in recent months, according to new research. Food insecurity is defined as the lack of available financial resources for food at the household level, and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research delved into family nutrition trends during the pandemic and was conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of Herbalife Nutrition and Feed the Children, among 2,500 consumers in five Asia Pacific markets, including Hong Kong, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
"We see that food insecurity has impacted parents more during the pandemic because they lacked safe options to get fresh and healthy foods, and had not enough money to buy the food needed. Many parents were also worried about the pandemic's lasting health impact on their children," said Stephen Conchie, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Herbalife Nutrition Asia Pacific.
"Since food insecurity and poor nutrition are associated with several chronic illnesses, there is an urgent need to provide families and children with safe and affordable meal alternatives to allay concerns about food insecurity in the longer term. With this goal in mind, Herbalife Nutrition's Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative is just one of the ways we collaborate with non-profit organizations and share resources to bring about that vital change," he added.
Shifts in Food Purchasing Behaviors
With 68 percent of Asia Pacific consumers who faced food security concerns experiencing it for the first time in during the pandemic, close to half (52%) of Asia Pacific consumers also started purchasing less expensive foods. Respondents shared that they also started shopping at different, less expensive stores (40%), skipped meals (34%), and received food assistance from a food bank or a local community center (32%).
Parents Struggle in Maintaining Healthy, Balanced Diet
While the top food and nutrition issue among all respondents was the inability to eat a balanced diet during the pandemic (34%), there were significant differences reported between respondents who were parents compared to non-parents, including:-
- Lack of access to fruits and veggies (40% for parents vs. 24% for non-parents)
- Lack of safe options to get food (39% for parents vs. 26% for non-parents)
- Not enough money to purchase the food we needed (33% for parents vs. 22% for non-parents)
Parents Display Concern about Lasting Health Impacts
Nine in 10 Asia Pacific parents (90%) surveyed worry that their child will have lasting health effects as a result of food insecurity during the pandemic. Since most children (70%) are currently doing online learning from home, 63% of parents surveyed worry that they are not getting all the nutrients they need because of the disrupted access to school meals. As such, the majority (73%) have been making lunch for their children either at lunchtime or before leaving for the day.
To ensure children can maintain a balanced diet during the pandemic, about half of the parents (55%) said that the government should promote flexible working hours for parents to ensure their kids are eating well. Other popular solutions are for schools to provide easy, healthy meal recipes for parents to use (43%) and relying on food delivery to increase healthy food options (31%).
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