Food, beverage consumption changing in Canada: report

Canadian Pizza
April 04, 2017
By Canadian Pizza
Toronto – Although Canadians are interested in healthy food, it is taste, quality, loyalty, convenience and value that tend to influence Canadians' decisions to eat out more than healthy dining, says a report by the NPD Group and Nielsen.

The two information companies have joined forces to produce "Eating Patterns in Canada" (EPIC), a report that provides detailed information on eating and drinking habits in Canada, NPD Group and Nielsen said in a news release. It also provides a unique look at the motivations behind Canadians’ choices about what they eat and drink.

This year’s edition explores what matters to Canadians when they prepare a meal, reach for a snack, and eat out of home. It examines in-home and away-from-home food and beverage consumption and addresses the impacts of health, nutrition, demographic shifts and economic factors on consumer behaviour related to foods and beverages.

“The last decade has seen a significant shift in the way that Canadians spend their money. Trips to retail stores are down, Canadians are dining out less frequently, and price is becoming a larger part of the value equation," said Robert Carter, executive director of foodservice for the NPD Group.

What’s new in food and beverage consumption?
Food consumption continues to remain largely an in home behaviour, while work and school motivate out of home consumption, especially during lunch. By a margin of four to one, most meals are sourced at home. That said, on any given day, just under half of Canadians source at least one meal away from home.

When it comes to eating outside the home, traffic is moving to lower priced segments such as the quick-service restaurant (QSR) segment, which has added to its dominant share of traffic at the expense of the full-service restaurant (FSR) segment. In terms of share of traffic, breakfast is growing steadily year over year while snacking dayparts are all declining. Meanwhile lunch has risen in recent years as supper diminished.

However, food service remains challenged with flat growth. As the graph below illustrates, the Atlantic region and Manitoba/Saskatchewan are the key growth drivers of food service.

Digital influence growing
Just as it has entered every aspect of our daily lives, technology is entering into the restaurant and grocery universe and changing the way Canadians shop for food and dine out. The use of digital technology to place orders has been growing rapidly for several years and now represents two per cent of all foodservice and FMCG orders.

According to the EPIC Report, digital has also become a significant visit motivator, with nine per cent of consumers influenced by a social media platform before making restaurant choice. Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are the most popular platforms driving this influence. Fourteen per cent of consumers are influenced by some digital means before heading out to eat or chop. These include digital coupons, emails, apps or online flyers.

Millennial diners are seen as influential. The report suggests they are four times as likely to search for, or post, an online restaurant review when compared to other generations.

Health and wellness
The report also suggests Canadians want healthy food options and that most Canadians (80 per cent) believe that foods made at home are healthier than prepared foods.

This serves to highlight one critical challenge that the foodservice industry faces: the perception that the foods they serve are unhealthy, or at least less healthy than foods prepared at home.

Although Canadians are conscious of healthy choices, when they do decide to eat out, healthy dining tends not to be a motivating factor. Instead, food taste, quality, loyalty, convenience and value tend to be the key considerations.

For more information, visit www.npdgroup.ca.

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