What Is the 'Loneliest' Day-Part?

Consumers are alone for more than half of all eating occasions; NPD reveals why

NPD eating alone (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Foodservice)

CHICAGO -- Consumption behaviors in the United States have become less household-oriented and more individualized than previous generations, and now more than 50% of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone, reported The NPD Group.

Also contributing to consumers dining alone is that 27% of all households now consist of just one person--the highest level in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Consumers are alone about 60% of the time at breakfast. Going solo at breakfast is driven by time constraints, routine and being away from home at work or school, NPD's food and beverage market research found. And 55% of lunch meals are solitary occasions where quick and easy is the driving need, and, again, many consumers are away from home.

Between meal occasions, like snacking, are typically solo since these occasions typically occur when consumers are away from home or on the go.

Dinner is the least likely meal occasion to be eaten alone. Only 32% of dinner meals are solo dining occasions. Dinner is unique among meal occasions since it focuses more on being family or socially oriented. Nearly half of all families with kids eat dinner together at least five times a week, according to NPD.

"The number of solo eating and beverage occasions have wide-ranging implications for food and beverage marketers in terms of new products, packaging and positioning," said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. "As lifestyles shift, it's key for marketers to profile and segment occasions when their product is consumed in various ways, including solo versus social occasions, in order to connect most effectively with consumers."

The NPD Group, Chicago, provides global information and advisory services covering the automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food and foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supply, sports, technology, toy and video game sectors.