19% of Americans Don't Have Time to Prepare Meals

by | 3 minute read

This September marks the fourth annual National Family Meals Month which the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Foundation launched to encourage Americans to strive for just one more family meal per week at home. Over this short period of time, the movement has grown to include approximately 200 partners (food retailers, manufacturers and community organizations) and an annual tracking study by The Nielsen Company shows that the drive is having a significant impact. According to Nielsen, among those who saw the campaign, 84% took action such as eating together more as a family and cooking more meals at home.

The National Family Meals Month survey was conducted by the Nielsen Harris poll within the U.S. among 2,185 respondents. The sample was weighted to be representative of the total U.S. Harris poll and was used for a comparison to previous years' survey results and trends. Awareness of the family meals movement is consistently growing from the 2015 launch until today. According to the research, 15 million households had heard about National Family Meals Month in 2017. And among those who saw the campaign, there has been significant behavior change:

  • 42% of consumers report they are cooking more meals at home.
  • 36% of consumers report they are eating together more often as a family.
  • 36% report that they are making healthier food choices.
  • 35% report that they are purchasing more fruits and vegetables.

"It is exceedingly rewarding to have witnessed the lightening-speed growth of this movement and the initial, significant impact on consumer behavior," said Sue Borra, RD, executive director of the FMI Foundation. "Based on our ongoing research, we know that the majority of consumers (63%) across every generation (millennials, Gen X, boomers and Matures) and across income levels believe it is important to eat at home together with their families/household. Even more, 85% of consumers with kids at home believe it is important."

According to AudienceSCAN, 50.6% of Prepared Supermarket Meal Shoppers have children living at home. About 39% have the personal goal of eating healthier this year, 23.5% would like to spend more time with family and 24.7% are willing to pay more for healthy or organic food products. However, working parents may not always have enough time to cook at home, so they're going to be on the look-out for other family meal alternatives. They're 41% more likely than other adults to be willing to sacrifice privacy in order to get ads that are relevant to them and, in the last month, 39.1% have used a search engine to research products they were considering for purchase. Google is the preferred search engine for 88.4% of this audience, but only 17.5% will venture past the first page of results.

The research to which Borra is referring is the Food Marketing Institute U.S. Grocery Shoppers Trends 2018 report conducted by The Hartman Group. This study demonstrates that:

  • Among meals eaten each week, only eight (approximately) are eaten with family/household members: approximately two breakfasts, two lunches and four dinners.
  • Among those meals, only three dinners are eaten at home.

This same study also showed that regardless of generation or income levels, American shoppers share the same top-four obstacles to having meals at home with their families more often:

  • 49% cite differing schedules;
  • 22% report that they don't have enough energy or are too tired;
  • 19% say they don't have enough time to prepare meals; and
  • 18% report that too many distractions get in the way such as television, social media or homework projects.

Supermarkets can boast the time-saving appeal of prepared family meals through a variety of advertisements. According to AudienceSCAN, Prepared Supermarket Meal Shoppers are 54% more likely than other adults to find advertising on their mobile apps useful to them and, last year, 59% took action after seeing an ad on their mobile smartphone apps or after receiving a text advertisement. About 58% took action after receiving an email advertisement and they're 51% more likely than other adults to click on text link ads on websites. Also, 70.1% of these consumers took action after seeing a TV commercial last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.