February 5th, 2020: Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, has today released the results of an in-depth national study into the evening meal consumption habits of today. Carried out in partnership with Red C Research, this unique study was designed to better understand the changing dynamics of people’s evening mealtime habits, including the gap between what we say and what we do, and ultimately identify opportunities for the Irish food, drink and horticulture sectors.
The study involved a nationally representative online survey of over 1,000 Irish consumers who charted their evening eating habits, resulting in a sample of 5,925 adult and 1,841 child evening meals collected over seven consecutive days. The research captures consumer intentions to live more healthily and sustainably versus their daily choices when it comes to evening meals.
Meat & two veg most popular adult meal type
Key findings of the study include:
Good intentions prevail
Health and wellness considerations are driving consumer behaviour, with over 80% of people placing a high level of importance on eating a balanced diet. 4 in 10 adults cite awareness of the food they eat and the impact it can have on physical and mental wellness as having a great deal of influence on evening meal choice. Ethical considerations are also influencing consumer behaviour, as almost 3 in 10 people feel making choices that are more positive for the environment has a great deal of influence on evening meals.
While just over 2 in 10 (23%) people claim to have prepared more vegan meals at home in the last 12 months, the reality is that just 1% of evening meals prepared over the last 7 days were vegan dishes. Commenting on the growing influence of health and wellness trends on dietary choices, Bord Bia Consumer Insight Specialist, Grace Binchy said; “When it comes to evening meals, this comprehensive study captures a clear intent to make healthy and socially responsible food choices and people believe they are regularly doing so. However, as a growing ‘time poor’ nation, life gets in the way. There is a tendency for people to remember the choices they make as being better than they were and their original intention is not always reflected in their actions.”
Busyness is the New Norm
Busier lives and seeking convenience solutions are influencing Irish evening mealtime habits. Smaller meals and snacks are changing evening meal dynamics, with 17% of all evening meals no longer the main meal of the day. There has been a 12% decline in regular scratch cooking among Irish adults, from just over 4 in 10 adults in 2011 to 3 in 10 in 2019.
The study found that there is no longer a ‘one size fits all’ approach to evening meals, with a significant rise in the number of households preparing different meals for different people since 2011. In keeping with the fracturing of the traditional evening meal occasion, 1 in 10 evening meals are now eaten in different rooms and more than 7 in 10 meals involve a device being active (e.g. a TV, Smartphone, or tablet). Takeaways and home deliveries account for almost 1 in 10 (9%) of all evening meals eaten over the course of a week, rising to 15% on a Friday or Saturday. A further 11% of evening meals are eaten out of the home.
According to Grace Binchy, “As our lives grow increasingly busier, the study captures a move away from the traditional evening meal as we know it. With nearly half of adults claiming to enjoy cooking, but only when there is enough time available to do so, convenience emerged as an extremely important consideration when choosing what to eat in the evening”.
Opportunities around marketing messages exist in addressing the converging importance of convenience, nutrition and climate for Irish consumers. Commenting on the relevance of the study, Grace Binchy said; “Over the past decade Ireland has experienced huge social, economic and technological changes which have significantly impacted consumer attitudes. This research will help the food and drink industry to look forward and make well informed business decisions that serve customers’ needs better. Manufacturers should consider how they can deliver healthy products while creating convenience in people’s lives and addressing their changing demands around sustainability.”
Top 10 adult meal types:
Top 10 children’s meal types:
Additional facts uncovered by the study: