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Restaurant traffic growth is sluggish and grocery store sales are stalled in the center aisles, a reflection of how U.S. consumer eating habits are changing.The consulting group identified five major factors that explain why eating behaviors are evolving:
- The U.S. Hispanic population is growing exponentially compared to non-Hispanics. Restaurant visits by Hispanics grew in 2014 while visits by non-Hispanics declined. At home, Hispanics traditionally cook with fresh ingredients, preparing meals from scratch on the stove top.
- Millennials are projected to surpass baby boomers as the largest living generation in 2015. They like fresh, less processed food and shop the perimeter of grocery stores for such items. In recent years, this demographic has cut back on restaurant visits.
- Aging baby boomers are developing health ailments and focusing on foods high in protein, calcium and whole grains and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also visiting restaurants more frequently than young adults.
- More consumers are dining solo. More than half of food and beverage consumption now happens when consumers are alone. Households consisting of just one person, at 27 percent, are at the highest level in U.S. history.
- Consumption of fresh foods, including meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables, grew by 20 percent from 2003 to 2013. Millennials, who are driving the trend, like menu components that are made to order or can be customized.