Shifts in Share of Stomach Can Create Success
Eating habits are evolving in the U.S., and that includes blurring of the lines between traditional meal components and snack food items to create simpler meals. This has many food manufacturers struggling to find ways to jump-start growth. Winning share of stomach requires a deep understanding of what’s happening at home and at foodservice, so you remain in consumers’ line of sight as they make consumption choices.
Source: The NPD Group/National Eating Trends® (NET®), two years ending Feb. 2016
While more than 80 percent of our meals are sourced from the home, not all food categories follow that same proportion. In fact, several categories are almost exclusively consumed away from home. Hamburgers, for example, are consumed at restaurants nearly three-quarters of the time, yet fruit is consumed in the home 95 percent of the time.
That might be where these categories stand today, but marketers should be aware of gradual shifts over time. For example, sandwiches have started to shift back toward the home. In 2006, 55 percent of sandwiches were consumed in the home, but as of 2016, that has risen to nearly 60 percent. Given how important sandwiches are at lunch and dinner, this can have great implications on surrounding categories such as cold cuts, peanut butter, jelly, breads, and condiments. We’re seeing a similar shift in carbonated soft drinks, which are seeing a decline in consumption from restaurants, but the change for in-home consumption has been flat.
Changing demographics are playing a role in the shifts in consumption locations. Millennials have been a key driver of the movement toward home-prepared meals ever since the recession of 2008 gripped us. Millennials were the first to pull back from restaurants, but even as the economy improved they continued to prepare more meals at home than previous generations did at the same age, signaling a generational shift.
Understanding the dynamics behind each category is essential, because the motivations driving consumption at home versus away can vary greatly. Marketers should rethink the roles certain items play in eating occasions, in order to keep pace with some of these faster-moving shifts influenced by generational and multicultural attitudes.