Day-to-day dining has become more informal and modern mealtimes have been steadily streamlined to deliver in terms of speed and cost. Globally, consumers are spending less time preparing meals, and 19% of main meals eaten at home are ready-to-eat rather than home-made. In a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour, snacking – which now accounts for 23% of all global eating and drinking –has started to emerge as an alternative to square meals (source: Kantar Worldpanel).
As meals are disrupted by snacking, consumers are rethinking routine eating occasions. Between 2014 and 2018, the percentage of US consumers who agreed that breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner fell from 55% to 50%. Now, nearly three-quarters of consumers in the US say they prefer to snack in the morning, opting for light, portable foods that can be eaten at the start of the day (source: Mintel).
While many factors driving these shifts are external, changes in the home itself are also at play. ‘There has been a move away from the formal dining room as a separate space in more modern houses, but also in the new standard for the open kitchen,’ Amy Trubek, an associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont, tells The Atlantic. ‘This creates, overall, a more informal relationship with the moment when a meal is consumed.’
City lifestyles are increasingly defined by convenience and by 2050, 68% of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas (source: UN). As the food and drink sector evolves to meet the needs of time-pressed consumers who are accessing a growing share of goods and services online, both the restaurant industry and grocery retail are changing and adapting faster than ever.
In the restaurant industry, meal delivery is slowly replacing traditional table- and counter-service models. According to the National Restaurant Association, about 60% of US restaurant dining is now ‘off-premise’ – meaning drive-throughs, takeaway meals and food delivery. To remain relevant and competitive in this booming market for food delivery, supermarkets and restaurants are working with third-party delivery services.
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