U.S. consumers are spending less time eating and drinking in the average day than a decade ago. The overall population spent 1 hour and 14 minutes eating per day in 2004, but in 2014, we spent only 1 hour and 10 minutes eating and drinking, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics's American Time Use Survey. That may not seem like a big difference, but when that is compared with how we spend our time overall, it shows a shift in priorities to ease and convenience, possibly to make time for doing other things.
Ten years ago, the average American spent 8 hours and 34 minutes sleeping each day, 3 hours and 39 minutes working, 2 hours and 39 minutes watching TV, and 1 hour and 48 minutes doing other household activities, such as lawn care, food preparation, housework, etc. In 2014, we spent 9 more minutes sleeping, 4 fewer minutes working, 10 more minutes watching TV, and just about the same amount of time doing housework. It seems that Americans may be spending slightly less time working and eating to make more time for activities they prefer, such as watching TV and sleeping.
Eating and drinking habits all depend on demographics, though. As Americans get older, they devote more time to eating. Last year, those aged 20-24 only spent just over an hour consuming food and drinks, while those aged over 65 spent 1 hour and 25 minutes. Men over the age of 65 spent even more time eating, at 1 hour and 40 minutes. Additionally, those with young children, especially women, find less time to eat and drink per day. Women with children under 18 spent almost 10 fewer minutes a day eating than men with no children under 18. Consumers who are married also spend more time eating than those who are not. Specifically, married men spent about 15 more minutes eating per day than single women. People also find more time to enjoy eating on weekends and holidays, as they spent about 10 fewer minutes dining on weekdays than on weekends.
These statistics may not seem like much to the average person, but to a member of the food industry, they provide useful insight on how to market to different consumers. Those that are selling quick, easy meals should focus their efforts on single women, women with young children, and Millennials, while those catering to foodies and consumers willing to spend more time with their food should market to older male diners and married couples.
Jennette has been with The Food Institute since 2013. As Marketing Director, she is responsible for promoting all Food Institute books, seminars and webinars, as well as writing and editing the Food Institute’s annual publications. Additionally, she writes for and edits the daily news update, Today in Food, and contributes to the weekly Food Institute Report. She has a background in non-profit and environmental marketing, programming and writing, and graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in Communication Studies.
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