Foodservice Equipment Reports

Per Capita Restaurant Visits Continue To Decline

American consumers are sourcing more meals at home rather than at restaurants, according to new data released by The NPD Group as part of its annual “Eating Patterns in America” report. The report finds that a decline in restaurant usage and an increase in meals from home is one of the single biggest changes in eating patterns in the U.S. in the last five years.

The number of meals purchased at restaurants has continued to decline since the beginning of the Great Recession. For the 12 months ended August 2014, average per capita visits to restaurants fell to 191 per year, the lowest level since 1993. Per capita visits peaked at 210 per year in 2001 and then again at 208 in 2007 and 2008. The latest CREST numbers show that Americans now get eight of 10 meals from home. But NPD adds that this does not necessarily mean we are cooking more.

“We are eating more meals in our homes, but not cooking more dishes, says NPD V.P. Harry Balzer, the author of the 29th annual “Eating Patterns in America” report. He notes that many of the 10 food items that have shown the most growth in the past 10 years are “ready to eat” or require minimal preparation, such as yogurt, frozen sandwiches and protein and cereal bars.

“We are still leaving the cooking to others. With restaurant visits down, the manufacturers of our foods are filling more of that need,” Balzer says. This trend of “at-home” convenience foods also has fueled the growth of prepared food purchases in supermarkets.

Information on the new report and other NPD research products can be found at npd.com.

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