Study says Filipinos turned to sweets more than ever since the start of COVID-19 pandemic

January 22, 2021 - 4:07 PM
Stock photo of assorted sweets. (Unsplash/Vinicius 'amnx' Amano)

Data based on Filipinos’ Google searches showed that their sweet cravings intensified since the coronavirus pandemic started, according to an online shopping aggregator.

iPrice Group reported that based on the Philippines’ keyword searches from October 2019 to November 2020, interest in chocolates, sweets and candies have increased as compared to 2019.

The search interest was based on the keywords “sweets,” “candy,” “chocolates,” “tsokolate” and “tamis,” which refers to sweet in English.

The group noted that “the number of searches has been on a constant increase over the months.”

It said that February and October would typically garner the most Google searches on sweets and chocolates due to two occasions celebrated during those months—Valentine’s Day where lovers give sweets and Halloween, where there is a trick-or-treat activity.

“However, this year, Filipinos have been searching more and more for these delicacies as the year goes by,” the group said.

“If you compare September 2020 (a random month) with February 2020 (Valentines’ Day month), September has 38% more Google searches,” it said on a release.

It added that in October 2020, there was a “122% more interest in chocolate than the year before” or in October 2019.

“In April 2020, just when everyone was transitioning into the new normal, search interest for chocolates & sweets started to increase by 20%,” the group further said.

It noted that their study revealed that the monthly average of Google searches in the Philippines for 2020 was 91% more than 2019’s.

Chocolate Data by iPrice Group
(Graph from iPrice Group/Released)

The group also found out that Western chocolate brands were more preferred in most of Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, people searched for Toblerone, Maltesers and Ferrero Rocher other than local brands like Chocnut, Flat Tops and Curly Tops.

“The top three Western chocolates have 254% more searches than the top three local chocolates. In terms of local chocolates, Philfoods’ Flat Tops rank #1, followed by Chocnut and Curly Tops,” the group said.

Food trends and stress eating 

Filipinos’ heightened interest in sweets could be attributed to the increase in the number of food trends that were conceptualized or had gained traction during quarantine as people hunker in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Based on an article by Metro.Style, these include the dalgona coffee, soufflé pancakes, banana bread and the kori-kohi, a Japanese-style drink involving coffee ice cubes.

Some of the food mentioned involved sweets or chocolates.

According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, humans resort to eating as a form of reaction to discomfort.

“Perceived stress and chronic stressor exposure are associated with an increased drive to eat as measured by disinhibition, hunger, binge eating, and palatable, non-nutritious food consumption,” it said.

Healthline also notes that sugary food “can weaken the body’s ability to respond to stress,” citing a 2016 study published in the Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences journal.

“Sugar can help you feel less frazzled by suppressing the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis in your brain, which controls your response to stress,” it added.

“Researchers at the University of California, Davis found that sugar inhibited stress-induced cortisol secretion in healthy female participants, minimizing feelings of anxiety and tension. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone,” the report further said.

As the Philippines enters its 314th day of community quarantine, lifestyles continue to be upended due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

This has resulted in Filipinos experiencing stress, which could drive their impulse to eat comfort food such as sweets.