Consumers Eat More Meals at Home

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Consumers Eat More Meals at Home

By Alex Palmer - 09/07/2009
The hot new neighborhood restaurant may be the kitchen, according to a new survey from Whole Foods Market. The Food Shopping Trends Tracker, conducted by Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive and drawing on the responses of nearly 2,200 shoppers, found that 68 percent of adults have changed their cooking and eating behaviors due to the economy. Over half of respondents (51 percent) eat at home more often, while 37 percent are more careful about budgeting their food shopping trips.

But those who are choosing home-cooked meals over high-end restaurant entrees are still concerned about how much they’re spending, with 82 percent of respondents saying the way they shop has been affected by food prices. For those seeking ways to save, 54 percent are using more coupons, while 45 percent say they’re more likely to buy private label products. Half of consumers (50 percent) are more likely to comparison shop.

Quality still remains key for shoppers. Seventy-six percent said they wouldn’t compromise on the quality of the food they buy despite high food prices, though 65 percent of consumers said they would find ways to afford these foods within their budgets. When asked about buying often more expensive natural or organic foods, 75 percent of respondents say they would continue to buy these in the same quantities that they always have.

“This research is in sync with what we are seeing right now with our customers,” said A.C. Gallo, co-president and chief operating officer for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “We recognize that shoppers should be able to cut costs, not corners, when buying natural and organic foods.”

Most adults (79 percent) say they cook at home, and more than half of those (54 percent) do so to save money. Forty-four percent say they do so because they enjoy food in the comfort of their home, while slightly fewer (41 percent) do so to be sure they’re eating healthy food.

The study also looked at parents who prepare food for their children. One in five of these parents (20 percent) say they would provide their children with healthy food, no matter what the price, while the same percent say that convenience is most important to them, whether or not the food is the healthiest they could be giving their child. Six percent of parents say their kids just won’t eat healthy breakfasts, lunches or after-school snacks.