The Renovation of Canadian Eating Routines

Discover five trends that are transforming Canadian eating routines.

The Renovation of Canadian Eating Routines

The author(s)

  • Kathy Perrotta Vice President, Canada, MSU Research
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Change in the Canadian food and beverage industry has been well documented over the past decade, with clear winners and losers emerging in the manufacturing, retailing and foodservice spaces.

While that change is often associated with industry-driven by shifts in information technology, retailing, travel and trade, undoubtedly the primary catalyst for industry transformation is the Canadian consumer.

Ipsos’ 2017 Canada CHATS Food and Beverage Trends Report reveals that individual’s deeper engagement in their daily food and beverage choices is at the heart of the renovation of Canadian eating routines.

From an updated view of health, evolving from a sole focus on nutrient intake that now includes clean labels, limited processing and pro-active benefits, to a refined taste exploration evolving from expanding taste varietals and global cuisine access to now include product origin, sourcing practices and item authenticity, consumers undoubtedly expect more. 

This new level of interest has unleashed enormous opportunity for those organizations applying the requisite rigor and discipline to put the consumer rather than the product at the center of key business decisions. Below is a sampling of trends identified in the 2017 Canada CHATS that are transforming Canadians’ choices:

1. Meal Skipping Offers “Deferral” Opportunity

The skipping of traditional meals is a popular behaviour among Canadians. Lunch squeaks past Breakfast as the most skipped meal of the day, as over one in five Canadians (22%) report skipping Lunch on an average day (versus 21% for Breakfast). It must be considered that this skipping behaviour is not random, as Meal Skippers are as likely as Non-Meal Skippers to snack throughout the day. Perhaps this shedding of traditional eating rituals denotes a degree of de-prioritization of traditional meals, as consumers opt instead for all-day grazing behaviour or a Mini-Mealing style of eating.

2. The Snack Factor

The behaviour reported as “in-betweening,” or snacking, represents more than two-thirds of all occasions (68%) and continues to dominate the occasion landscape for both foods and beverages. The needs driving snacking item choice certainly vary by individual consumer, and are dependent on metrics such as time of day and situational dynamics, especially among those seeking healthy nourishment, energy uplift and comforting treats.

3. Less Meal Planning More Spontaneity

Today, consumers simply do not have the time or desire to plan meals as far in advance as was the norm in past years. An acceleration of near-to or in-the-moment decision-making is re-ordering the game plan for how marketers can most effectively connect with consumers to share product offerings, recipes or promotions. More than half of all decisions about what is for Dinner, historically the most planned meal of the day, are now “day of” events, as consumers seek information and options that help them feed themselves and their families during the immediacy surrounding the meal.

4. Modernized Convenience

Convenience is the dominant factor driving consumers’ decisions about what to eat and drink today. Simple, easy, available, no planning, no preparation and close by or on hand are all important criteria in determining what is convenient. While there are many more convenient solution-oriented options available, the desire for speed does not assuage the need for some level of involvement and experience. The emergence of Meal Kits and HMR (Home Meal Replacement) options confirms consumers’ unwillingness to sacrifice quality, freshness and requirement for less-processing to meet convenience needs.

 5. Personalized Health Values

Undoubtedly, health is an omni-present need as almost half (40%) of all food and beverage choices are motivated by consumers opting for something healthy and nutritious. Furthermore, over half (51%) of adults report regularly seeking information on the quality, suitability and healthfulness of their choices. Consumers are increasingly customizing and personalizing their definition of health, bounded by transparency, fresh and less processed, simplified and quality ingredients. A continued focus on pro-active benefits that either help individuals manage or prevent conditions of concern demand specificity and detail on “how this product can benefit me.”

The transformation of Canadians’ eating routines is driven by their desire to reconnect with their food and beverage choices, especially given their inherent importance to the overall enjoyment of life. As all critical elements that shape our day-to-day behaviour, eating and the modern food culture is to be experienced, explored, shared, discussed and enjoyed.   Canadians’ reconnection with their choices and their origins marks a new era of engagement and participation, offering an abundance of opportunity for all.

Kathy Perrotta is a Vice-President of Marketing at Ipsos who leads the FIVE team. FIVE is a daily on-line diary tracking of individuals’ eating and drinking behavior across all categories/brands, dayparts and venues. The information is captured among 20,000 Canadians annually and commenced in 2013. We also capture the motivations, attitudes, situational dynamics, lifestyle habits and purchase detail that drives item choice. The FIVE team produces an annual food and beverage trends report called Canada CHATS mined from the expansive FIVE data set.

The author(s)

  • Kathy Perrotta Vice President, Canada, MSU Research

Consumer & Shopper