America’s Hurried Lifestyle Has Greatest Impact on Eating Behaviors Over Last 30 Years

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Thirty years ago when The NPD Group, a leading market research company, began continuous tracking of America’s eating behaviors, 72 percent of main dishes at dinner were homemade. Today 59 percent of main dishes are made- from-scratch with many households preferring ready-to-eat and frozen foods, and assembling a meal rather than preparing it.

The fast and hectic pace of the lives we lead has had the single greatest impact on this country's eating behaviors

Thirty years ago when The NPD Group, a leading market research company, began continuous tracking of America’s eating behaviors, 72 percent of main dishes at dinner were homemade. Today 59 percent of main dishes are made- from-scratch with many households preferring ready-to-eat and frozen foods, and assembling a meal rather than preparing it, according to NPD’s National Eating Trends®, now celebrating 30-years of monitoring the eating and drinking habits of U.S. consumers.

“The fast and hectic pace of the lives we lead has had the single greatest impact on this country’s eating behaviors,” said Mark East, president of The NPD Group’s North American food and beverage unit. “It’s clear by the changes we’ve observed over the past 30 years that the Google generation wants things now.”    

According to National Eating Trends data, Americans are eating many of the same foods they ate three decades ago, but how and who prepares the foods has changed. A sandwich is still among the top foods consumed but 30-years ago the sandwich was prepared by someone in the household. Today that sandwich is more likely ready-to-eat, frozen, or prepared by a restaurant or foodservice outlet than ever before finds NPD’s food and beverage market research.

“Americans have an ever increasing need for convenience when it comes to eating,” says East. “We fully expect this trend to continue as ready-to-eat meals prepared outside the home and eaten in-home, fresh, and frozen foods are all forecasted to grow notably in the next decade.”

Other time-saving behavioral shifts National Eating Trends has captured are:

  •          The average number of food items used per meal decreased from 4.44 in the 1980s to 3.5 in 2010
  •          Year-round grilling, microwave ovens, and slow cookers are among the appliances that helped make meal preparation easier and more convenient. The percent of meals cooked by a microwave has doubled since the 1980s. Households using a slow cooker at least once in a two-week period jumped 67 percent from the 1980s to 2010. Over one-third of American households use the grill to make a meal at least once in a two-week period.

“Saving time motivated many of the trends we’ve captured in National Eating Trends over the past thirty years,” says East. “As our lives get busier and busier, saving time will continue to be an increasingly important factor in deciding what, when, where, and how we eat.”    

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, contact us, visit http://www.npd.com/, or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/npdfood

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