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NDP Group says majority of Canadians to reduce restaurant visits




Dec. 15, 2008, Toronto – According to the latest Eating
Patterns In Canada (EPIC) report from The NPD Group, 88 per cent of
respondents revealed their intentions to decrease the amount of time spent
dining out in restaurants.

 



A majority of Canadians (59 per cent) are also more
conscious about the nutritional value of what is eaten than they were three
years ago with a full 67 per cent of respondents noting that nutrition is an
important attribute in the preparation of their evening meal.

“There has been a hard shift back to traditional dining and
in this respect, home and hearth are the natural choices for today’s consumer,”
says Marion Chan, The NPD Group. 
“Although the main motivation behind this trend is nutrition and health
and wellness, we can anticipate the weakening economy to accelerate the shift
back to the family dinner table.”

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Given consumers are now closely scrutinizing the nutritional
values of their grocery items, certain products have become the items of choice
for the discerning buyer. Whole grain, trans-fat free and low fat items led the
charge in terms of products that were eaten by Canadian consumers on a weekly basis
(34%, 31% and 29%, respectively) with a growing trend towards organic products
continuing into 2009. Further, the continued efforts toward healthy eating is
directly related to the decline of certain products being eaten by consumers.
On this list include, carbonated soft drinks, pork chops and hot dogs, all of
which fell in favour since 2006.

A Booming Trend

On the heels of the health-related eating patterns revealed
in the study, Baby Boomers were found to be the demographic that drove change
in the food arenas the most. With this demographic retiring later, with more
disposable income and a renewed focus on health, this group will continue to
forge the trend towards healthier eating.

The most important meal of the day

Grandma always said that breakfast was the most important
meal of the day. Canadians are finally taking heed of this advice as evidenced
by the EPIC survey findings that reveal that breakfast skipping is at a 10-year
low. And even though Canadians are eating breakfast, they are doing so on the
fly with the majority (84%) of breakfasts taking five minutes or under to
prepare. For the most part, these meals include quick and easy-made foods with
ready-to-eat cereals (52%), toast (50%) and eggs/omelettes (27%) leading the
charge**. On the whole, the top four foods that Canadians will consume annually
for breakfast include ready-to-eat cereals(90%), toast(81%), fruit(40%) and
eggs/omelettes(23%). The importance of breakfast seems to be passed down to the
next generation with more breakfasts reported to being eaten by children in
2008 than in previous years. Conversely, Boomers aged 55+ are eating fewer
breakfasts in home, and heading out to restaurants in the morning, with an
increase in this dining out activity over previous years.

Mid-day Madness

With breakfast growing in popularity, lunch has become the
least important meal of the day. According to The NPD Group EPIC report, lunch
is the most often skipped meal of the day. 
Sandwiches continue to lead the charge as the top food (44%), followed
by fruit (28%) and yogurt (12%).  Yet,
the reign of sandwiches at the top of the lunch food chain is waning, as other
items, such as “pick ‘n’ pack” meals of yogurt, fruit, vegetables and cheese
gain ground. Cereal has also transcended its place as a strictly “breakfast”
food with a number of respondents noting its place as an adequate lunchtime
meal or snack (STAT).

Soup’s On

The EPIC report found that there has been a return to the
home and hearth with dinner being served and prepared at the family dinner
table with increasing frequency. Perhaps most surprisingly is the shift in
gender roles with men becoming more responsible for preparing and cleaning up
after meals. Most notably, 25 per cent of households now say that the majority
of food shopping is the responsibility of the male member compared to the years
2004 through 2007. Family time in general has been facilitated by meals at home
with a full 81 per cent of respondents indicating that dinner is eaten together
as a family five to seven days a week.                            

Apples and Oranges…or Bananas

The EPIC report found that the growth of snacking is
outpacing any other meal of the day. As a matter of fact, the snack meal is now
firmly embedded as the fourth meal of the day, as it has become a deliberate
and planned meal occasion for many Canadians. Of the top 10 growing food items
eaten for snacks, many of them are fruits. These include apples, bananas,
yogurt and grapes, among others. While snacking is done throughout the day,
evening seems to be the most popular time for this indulgence with 50 per cent
of respondents admitting to eating snacks during this period.

“Clearly, Canadians’ food choices are shifting and will continue
to change as consumers become more educated about nutrition, health and
well-being. As well, the economy will play a large role in defining how the
family dollar is spent when it comes to food. Both those in the food service
industry as well as manufacturers can take heed of these results in order to
make the best decisions for their respective businesses moving forward,” says
Chan.