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Meal preparation and attitudes toward health and wellness are among the top evolving trends in U.S. consumers' eating habits, according to new research from Acosta Sales & Marketing.
The firm's "The Evolution of Eating" survey found that nine out of 10 shoppers prefer eating at home, driven by a desire for comfort (61 percent), cost (60 percent) and convenience (59 percent).
Rather than cooking from scratch, however, more Americans are turning to ready-to-eat and take-and-bake solutions, including “hybrid homemade meals,” such as a grocery store rotisserie chicken with a salad-in-a-bag and homemade potatoes.
Some 46 percent said they prepared meals at home over the past year, 48 percent when considering only the Millennial generation, who also reported eating prepared foods from grocery stores at home at a much higher rate than total U.S. diners (27 percent vs. 16 percent, respectively). Millennials also reported enjoying cooking the most compared with their older counterparts.
“The way our society views food has come a long way since the TV dinner heyday of the 1950s. From sharing recipes and photos of food on social media to a widespread fixation on healthy food and fads, we have seen a seismic shift in consumers’ attitudes toward food,” said Colin Stewart, SVP, Acosta. “Eating has evolved right along with society, and consumer brands and retailers must consider the dynamics, demands and preferences of today’s modern family to deliver successful food and meal solutions.”
Additionally, as America's health trend shows no signs of slowing down, Acosta finds that consumers are becoming even more educated about the connection between diet and wellness, and are taking efforts to transform their shopping and eating behaviors.
In fact, the majority of shoppers (61 percent) ranked reading food labels as very important to their health and wellness concerns when they grocery shop, and more than half reported trying to eat more fruits and vegetables in the past year. And shoppers across all segments reported eating more whole grains and buying foods with fewer preservatives.
"The Evolution of Eating" report was compiled using research conducted by Acosta, as well as the company’s experience working with the nation’s largest CPG manufacturers and retailers.