The eating at home business – an estimated total of retail packaged food and delivery/takeaway foodservice sales combined – has surged as an effect of the pandemic, and it is offering more options for consumers. In 2022, it was a USD3.8 trillion market and estimated to cross USD4.6 trillion by 2027.
Moreover, the use of foodservice for at-home occasions is increasing – while delivery and takeaway sales represented only 19% of at-home occasions in 2017, this gained eight percentage points by 2022. By 2027, one in three meals at home globally will come from foodservice.
Businesses must align with factors reshaping eating at home occasions
It has become essential for brands to speak to digital-first consumers who still seek healthy food cooked (or partially cooked) out of home. The need to save time, the desire to enjoy experiences, and the possession of more equipped kitchens after the pandemic raise the need for compatibility of packaged food and ingredients with home cooking systems. In addition, inflationary pressures and the growth of meal delivery are having an influence on consumer choices.
1. Adapt to fluid mealtimes
The surge in meal delivery services and the normalisation of hybrid working policies have escalated the shift away from the concept of three square meals a day.
Consumers are merging previously typical breakfast and lunch occasions
Source: Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2022
Previously more of a weekend habit, survey results (from Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2022) show a move towards merging previously typical breakfast and lunch occasions – with a rise in meals consumed between 10am and 12pm, while eating at the traditional 12-1pm lunch time decreased by five percentage points in 2022 vs 2017. The formats of food sought at home may change given the blurring lines of mealtimes, such as seeking more sating breakfast-styled dishes for meals consumed in the late morning.
Consumers are also becoming more fluid with their meals. Meal kits that require commitment to the same brands and routine are now as important as more versatile options such as convenient, ready-to-eat products. Both must deliver nutrition and novel flavours, as well as balance experience and convenience, in order for businesses to maximise their reach to consumers.
2. Embrace better-equipped kitchens
Investment in better home equipment during the pandemic has resulted in ownership of more diverse and sophisticated kitchen appliances. Consequently, consumer awareness of food storage and methods of food preparation has grown. Cooking from scratch that used to be dependent on large appliances such as ovens and cookers increasingly competes with ready meals that can be stored in freezing appliances and prepared with smaller appliances like light fryers and microwaves.
Chilled and frozen foods are increasingly accepted, overcoming historical perceptions that they are less fresh given longer storage times. Instead, consumers are more conscious of the importance of storage appliances to retain the quality of the food. Companies are leveraging the growth in this segment by launching more diverse flavours and product types. In addition, greater attention to health combined with the growth of freezers and fridges boosts the appeal of healthier frozen/chilled meals, such as prepared salads. Compatibility with appliances could be key to propel brands forward in line with consumer trends such as experience and convenience.
3. Explore new at-home consumption occasions
Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyles Survey 2022 reveals that consumers, especially millennials, increasingly prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than things. More time at home, leading to an emphasis on home entertainment, also represents a window of opportunity for food producers looking at eating occasions.Snack companies are constantly exploring ways to drive consumption through the day, especially as on-the-go consumption and impulse have evolved from pre-pandemic. Exploring new consumption occasions and snacking motivations are ways for meal-centric food players to gain greater share of stomach as well, especially as staple foods players typically position themselves as offering more sating options compared to typical snack products. Meat and seafood snacks retail value sales grew by 5% and 6%, respectively, in 2022, the fastest growth among savoury snacks.
Meat and seafood snacks up 5% and 6% in value in 2022 - the fastest growth in savoury snacks
Source: Euromonitor International Passport data
Fulfil eating at home occasions by aligning with the new consumer landscape and growing new occasions
Businesses must prepare for growing at-home eating occasions by aligning their business strategies with the new consumer landscape. They must offer products suited to a wider range of dayparts to reach consumers who no longer stick to rigid eating schedules due to hybrid lifestyles. Product portfolios must be suited to a wider range of spending preferences and immediacy. To reach consumers, brands must consistently seek ways to gain digital presence as online platforms gain share in both food discovery and fulfilment.
Learn more about the eating at home business in our report, Eating at Home: Opportunities in the New Consumer Landscape.