UK consumers eat more food on-the-go than any other European country
A report by Datamonitor says that the frequency by which consumers eat and drink on the go is increasing due to the hectic lives led by consumers.
Consumers in the UK have at 338 food occasions the highest number of on-the-go food and drink occasions per person per year in Europe. Datamonitor’s report analyzes how the on the go eating and drinking trend is shaping the consumer packaged food and drink industry.
Datamonitor’s definition of on the go: 'On-the-go consumption occurs when consumers are engaged in other activities or in environments that are not particularly suited to food or drink consumption; it occurs in one of three contexts: whilst on the move, whilst multi-tasking, and whilst taking part in leisure activities.'
Due to a growing perception amongst consumers in Europe and the US that they are time pressured and as a consequence of this, leisure time is increasingly being seen as a luxury. Datamonitor’s 2006 consumer survey found that 52% of consumers across Europe and the US had taken active steps to reduce stress levels over the previous year. As a consequence of this perceived time pressure and stress, consumers are increasingly eating and drinking whilst travelling, whilst at their desks or during leisure activities in an effort to free up more leisure time.
The growth in commuting times across Europe and the US has resulted in a growing number of consumers eating or drinking while travelling to or from work. Workers in the UK have the longest commuting times in Europe, and spend on average 73 minutes per day travelling to and from work. As a consequence of this, UK consumers have the highest number of on the move eating and drinking occasions in Europe. On the move eating occasions are forecast to account for 27% of all on the go occasions in the UK by 2011, a 2% increase from 25% in 2006.
Consumers across Europe and the US are also increasingly skipping meals, particularly breakfast and lunch due to work commitments and hectic lifestyles. As a result of these fragmented mealtimes, afternoon snacks represent the largest proportion of on the go meals, accounting for 27% of all on the go meals in 2006 in the UK. As skipped lunches become more frequent, consumers will increasingly seek products that are convenient and filling, which can be consumed as an afternoon snack to replenish energy levels.
Whilst eating on the go is a growing trend, the propensity to drink on the go is greater than it is to eat, due to the easy portability of drinks and the re-sealable nature of their packaging. UK consumers had on average 2.8 on the go drinking occasions per day in 2006, as compared to 2.2 for European consumers overall. As this trend continues, expect meal replacement drinks and liquid nutrition to become more and more popular, as consumers demand more sophisticated beverage offerings.
“As consumers’ lives become increasingly hectic, the opportunities for on-the-go food and drink consumption will increase, and the locations for on-the-go occasions will become more diverse” says Matthew Jones, consumer market analyst and author of the study. “Manufacturers can capitalize on this trend by targeting their products to specific mealtimes such as the afternoon snack, and making products available where they are most convenient such as forecourt retailers.”