Over the past two years, it has been well documented how the pandemic has shifted countless aspects of daily consumption routines, ranging from preparation events to social dining and use of restaurants. Within all these changes, a key theme of our lockdown experience has been the rise in homebound habits.
However, as consumers slowly resume their pre-pandemic patterns of life, which for many includes commuting to and from work or school and picking up meals and snacks to eat on the go or at their desks, the demand for easy, grab and go options is on the rise.
In the pre-pandemic period, Ipsos FIVE daily tracking diary reported that almost a third of occasions occurred outside the home environment either on the go or at an away-from-home location.
Early lockdown confinement brought about a steep decline in occasions away from home and diminished portability demand. However, the June 2022 report release showcases a 27% rebound with forecasts projecting further growth over the next year.
Consumers continue to eat away from home most often during the daytime (74% versus 26% in the evening). Broken down: breakfast 9%, morning snack 17%, lunch 21%, afternoon snack 27%, dinner 19% and evening snack 7%. Morning and afternoon snacking represents a significant growth opportunity for c-stores.
The role of kids
Close to a quarter (24%) of all items consumed outside the home during the daytime hours are eaten by kids under 13 years old. However, their parents have different habits: young family parents’ lunching away from home remains down by almost 40% compared to pre-pandemic.
Top food options in kids’ lunch boxes include a variety of handheld, pick-and-pack options that meet needs around ease, speed and freshness, including fresh fruit, cheese and veggies, as well as snack items, such as granola bars, crackers, potato chips, yogurt tubes and cookies.