Fiber, whole grains and protein from plant sources are viewed as the healthiest foods according to The International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food & Health Survey. More than four out of 10 consumers view animal protein as healthy, and this number has grown from 2019.

The annual survey was conducted between April 8 and April 16, about one month into COVID-19. The survey showed that 85% of Americans have made at least some change in the foods they eat or how they prepare food. Many are eating more meat and poultry.

“Worldwide demand for meat and poultry products continues to increase,” said Courtney Schwartz, marketing director, Kemin Industries, Des Moines, Iowa. “Avoiders represent a small minority. In fact, it’s estimated that less than 5% of the US identifies as vegetarian, even fewer as vegan.”

Prior to COVID-19, meat and poultry consumption had been growing, even amidst a plant-based food movement. Now during the pandemic, retail sales of meat and poultry have hit the roof.

From March 15 through Aug. 2, meat department dollar sales were up 33.7% and volume sales increased 20.7%, versus the same period in 2019, according to IRI, Chicago. This translates into an additional $8.1 billion in meat department sales during the pandemic, which includes an additional $3.7 billion for beef, $1.1 billion for chicken and $851 million for pork.