Report into American eating patterns finds diets in decline, home meals more popular

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 14th October 2008

The NPD Group, a leading market research company, has released the 23rd Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America, which discovers that consumers are eating more at home but not significantly cutting back on restaurant meals.

“This is a time of high anxiety for food marketers. It’s clear that what Americans say they are doing to deal with rising food prices is not always what they are really doing,” commented Harry Balzer, vice president and chief industry analyst at NPD, and an author of Eating Patterns in America.

Among the trends identified for this year’s edition of Eating Patterns in America are:

* Americans are eating more at home and are using restaurants differently. NPD has noticed a change in consumer habits, with c-stores and grocers now increasingly viewed as viable channels for purchasing prepared meals. More positive news for restaurants is that breakfast sales have reached a new peak, with more and more people keen to pick up something on their way to work or have a quick bite near their office.

* Breakfast bars and yogurt have also become a more prominent part of consumers morning routine, with the consumption of these foods in the morning reaching a new high.

* Americans, despite having increased interest in functional foods – highlighted by their heightened curiosity in probiotics, are losing interest in dieting. Perhaps, highlighting that consumers are more focussed on eating ‘better’ rather than eating less.

* It was discovered that snacking, which is effectively a fourth meal for many, is not as impulsive as many have previously thought. Most snacks are planned more than six hours earlier and there has been a shift in when the most snacking occurs – more in the morning and less in the evening.