Women worldwide continue to cook more meals each week than men do, according to a new Cookpad and Gallup study of home-cooking trends, but instead of continuing to shrink -- as it did over the previous three years -- the “cooking gender gap” widened for the first time in 2022.
Among women, global cooking rates held steady in 2022 at 8.7 meals per week, on average. Men, on the other hand, cooked 0.7 fewer meals per week than they had the year before, dropping their average to 4.0 meals. This decline reverses a trend that saw men cook more meals every year after the study’s baseline measurement in 2018. With fewer men cooking in 2022, the global home-cooking rate fell to 6.4 meals each week from 6.7 in 2021. People cooked about as frequently in 2022 as they did in 2018.
Cookpad, in partnership with Gallup, has studied world cooking trends now for five consecutive years -- a time span that covers life before the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during the height of the outbreak. Now, the release of the latest World Cooking Index report explores people’s cooking habits in 2022.
Where Are the Cooking Gender Gaps Widest and Smallest?
The cooking gender gap stands at 4.7 globally, but this figure masks significant differences across countries. In six countries, the cooking gender gap stands at eight or more meals per week -- nearly double the global rate -- including in Ethiopia, where women cooked 8.6 more meals than men did, on average per week. The next-largest gaps were in Tajikistan, at 8.2 more meals, and in Egypt, Nepal, Yemen and Algeria, all of which saw women cooking 8.1 or 8.0 more meals than men did, on average per week.
These countries have typically registered wide cooking gender gaps in past surveys. While Gallup did not poll in Ethiopia in 2021, the cooking gender gap in the 2020 Cookpad and Gallup home-cooking survey was 8.1 meals per week, the second highest of all countries surveyed that year. All of the other countries currently in the “top 10” also made the list in 2021, except Yemen, which was not surveyed that year.
Similarly to past years, women in 2022 cooked more meals than men in essentially every country or area surveyed -- with one interesting exception. In Italy, men cooked 0.4 more meals per week than women did. However, as recently as 2020, women there were cooking 5.1 meals more than men. This difference began to narrow in 2021, in line with broader regional patterns. In 2022, though, the trend of more men than women cooking not only accelerated, but Italian men exceeded women in average number of meals cooked.
In the other countries where the gender gap is the smallest, women cook more meals than men do, though in some cases, such as Spain or the United Kingdom, just slightly more. Except for Jamaica, the 10 countries with the smallest gender gaps are located in Western, Northern or Southern Europe.
Most Home Cooks Are Joyful Chefs
The new Cookpad report profiles five types of home cooks, thanks to a new research partnership between Cookpad and Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto is a Japanese multinational food and biotechnology organization that sponsored its own question series on the 2022 Gallup World Poll, including a question asking individuals whether they enjoyed their cooking experiences in the past seven days.
Individuals were placed into one of five groups, based on how frequently they cooked and whether they enjoyed doing so, as well as other pieces of background information, such as their age or employment status.
- The most common type of home cook was the Joyful Chefs, who constitute 36% of all people who cook in a typical week. This group cooks quite often -- an average of 9.1 meals per week -- and they universally say they enjoy doing so.
- With 21%, Reluctant Cooks make up the second-largest group. They cook fewer meals than any other home-cooking group, at 5.0 meals per week. Reluctant Cooks, without exception, do not enjoy cooking. This group consists of more men than women, at 59% to 41%, respectively.
- Home Cooking Professionals and Seasoned Culinarians are tied for third place, in terms of overall size -- at 18% each. Home Cooking Professionals cook less frequently than other groups (7.4 meals per week) -- perhaps unsurprising, since this group consists entirely of individuals who are working full-time for an employer. However, when they are able to cook, they enjoy the experience.
- Seasoned Culinarians cook the most of any group (9.6 meals per week), and 99% say they enjoy it. Over four in 10 people (42%) in this cooking camp are aged 65 and older, making these the oldest of the home cooks.
- The smallest group is the Crowded-Kitchen Cooks. They cook fewer meals than most other groups (averaging 7.0 per week), with three-quarters saying they enjoy the activity. Home cooks in this group are likely cooking for a large audience, as they tend to live in much larger households than the other groups.
The patterns in global home-cooking trends have evolved over the years. The persistent gender disparity in cooking remains notable, with women universally taking on more of the cooking responsibility. However, 2022 brought some intriguing shifts, particularly the reversing trend in men's participation in the kitchen and regional variances such as the anomaly seen in Italy.
As for the joy of cooking, a significant portion of the global populace identifies as Joyful Chefs. Yet, the nuances in how different demographic groups approach cooking -- whether out of passion, necessity or reluctance -- paint a detailed picture of the world's culinary habits. These insights provide a foundation for understanding the complex interplay of culture, gender roles and personal preferences in shaping the world’s cooking landscapes.
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