Americans eat most meals by themselves

Consumption behaviors in the United States have become less household-oriented and more individualized than previous generations, and now more than 50% of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone, reports The NPD Group, a global information company.

August 11, 2014

Consumption behaviors in the United States have become less household-oriented and more individualized than previous generations, and now more than 50% of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone, reports The NPD Group, a global information company. Also contributing to consumers dining alone is that 27% of all households now consist of just one person—the highest level in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Consumers are alone about 60% of the time at breakfast. Going solo at breakfast is driven by time constraints, routine, and being away-from-home at work or school, finds NPD’s food and beverage market research. Fifty-five percent of lunch meals are solitary occasions where quick and easy is the driving need, and, again, many consumers are away-from-home. Between meal occasions, like snacking, are typically solo since these occasions typically occur when consumers are away-from-home or on-the-go.

Dinner is the least likely meal occasion to be eaten alone. Only 32% of dinner meals are solo dining occasions. Dinner is unique among meal occasions since it focuses more on being family or socially-oriented. Nearly half of all families with kids eat dinner together at least five times a week, according to NPD.

“The number of solo eating and beverage occasions have wide-ranging implications for food and beverage marketers in terms of new products, packaging, and positioning,” said Darren Seifer, NPD Food and Beverage Industry Analyst. “As lifestyles shift it’s key for marketers to profile and segment occasions when their product is consumed in various ways, including solo versus social occasions, in order to connect most effectively with consumers.”

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