Europe

Greeks Moving Away from Med Diet, Survey Finds

The eating habits in Greece have been sharply influenced by the financial crisis and global nutritional trends.

Dec. 3, 2018
By Costas Vasilopoulos

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Eight years of a finan­cial cri­sis that shook the world and almost bank­rupted Greece, have also left their mark on the dietary habits of Greek peo­ple. A sur­vey found that con­sumers turned to more afford­able food, and the younger among them have started to drift away from the sta­ples of the Mediter­ranean diet.

How­ever, the cri­sis is not solely respon­si­ble for the change, as mod­ern eat­ing trends have grad­u­ally down­graded the din­ing rou­tines of con­sumers in the coun­try.

The Research Insti­tute of Retail Con­sumer Goods did a sur­vey among 2,000 peo­ple in Greece. It was found that their dietary habits have been heav­ily affected by the finan­cial cri­sis, both in terms of value and vol­ume. Money spent on food decreased by 21 per­cent from 2010 to 2017, while the quan­tity of food pur­chased went down by 15 per­cent dur­ing the same period.

An impor­tant out­come of the research was that con­sumers have started to dis­avow meats like beef and lamb as their main source of pro­tein, turn­ing to cheaper options like poul­try and legumes. They also pre­fer more pasta and rice than before, while on the other hand, they have cut down on sugar by 44 per­cent over­all.

Con­sumers low­ered their olive oil intake by 18 per­cent dur­ing the eight years, and con­sump­tion of fruits and veg­eta­bles was also reduced by 23 and 20 per­cent respec­tively.

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The researchers held the finan­cial cri­sis respon­si­ble for many of the pat­tern changes, since it affected their pur­chas­ing power and shifted their buy­ing pref­er­ences to cheaper prod­ucts.

Fur­ther­more, it was found that con­sumers are also affected by other para­me­ters, like TV pro­grams about food, social media, advice from super­mar­ket staff, and the press. But more than any­thing they are affected by their fam­i­lies, as one in two con­sumers said their par­ents and other rel­a­tives were their main sources of food infor­ma­tion.

The sur­vey also showed that the Mediter­ranean diet appeals more to elder con­sumers, while half of those who are younger than 35 years old tended to pre­fer a vari­ety of cuisines.

This depicts a global trend, the researchers noted, where the inter­net and the social media can deliver infor­ma­tion from around the world which would be almost impos­si­ble to reach in pre­vi­ous decades, influ­enc­ing the habits of (mostly) the younger among us.

The sit­u­a­tion is ambigu­ous, and no cer­tain pat­tern can be derived from the sur­vey results.

The major­ity of the respon­dents stated that they pre­fer food that is good for their health, yet they have been mov­ing away from Mediter­ranean diet prin­ci­ples by buy­ing less olive oil, and fewer fruits and veg­eta­bles, even when prices of the two have dropped in recent years.

They buy more legumes, another Mediter­ranean diet sta­ple, but this is more a reper­cus­sion of the cri­sis than a con­scious selec­tion.

The sur­vey con­cluded that con­sumers try to bal­ance their desire for health­ier food with their lac­er­ated bud­get. On the other hand, other fac­tors like tele­vi­sion, the inter­net and the press can sig­nif­i­cantly affect con­sumers, dri­ving many to other path­ways than the Mediter­ranean diet stan­dards.





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