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    More Consumers Opt to Dine Alone

    CHICAGO -- As generations continue to evolve, consumer behavior has become far less household-oriented and geared more toward the individual, according to The NPD Group.

    New research by the Chicago-based firm found that 50 percent of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone, likely driven by an increased number of households that consist of just one person (27 percent) -- the highest level in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Consumers are alone about 60 percent of the time while eating breakfast, with time constraints, routines, and being away from home at work or school playing key roles, according to NPD's food and beverage market research.

    Some 55 percent of lunch meals are eaten alone, driven by the evolving consumer trend toward quick-and-easy meal solutions. In addition, snacking occasions are often solitary, with many consumers away from home or on-the-go.

    However, dinner remains the most family-oriented of all occasions, and nearly half of all families with kids eat dinner together at least five times per week. Only 32 percent of consumers eat dinner alone, 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 vs. social occasions, in order to connect most effectively with consumers."

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