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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Traditional meals ditched for snacks
Snacking
Snacking is replacing traditional meals
Snacking is on the increase with one in three people choosing to eat alone rather than with their families.

Many people no longer eat three meals a day preferring to snack on the go, according to a survey by the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

The traditional evening meal at the table is being replaced by a tray meal in front of the television.


So many of the snacks are high in fat or sugar that my plea would be that any alternatives are healthy ones

Wendy Doyle
British Dietetic Association

And more and more young people from the 'can't cook won't cook generation' are ditching conventional meals for convenience food because they lack the skills to prepare food themselves.

The study reveals that consumers in the UK now eat the second largest quantity of savoury snacks in the world along with fruit, sweets and cakes.

Around one in three people buy snacks because they are hungry or bored, and one in ten people grab a snack to eat because they are too busy to eat properly.

Joanne Denney, chief executive of the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), said convenience foods must change to reflect the needs of today's consumers.

Challenge

"IGD research has found that consumers want more than just convenience, they also want help and inspiration in choosing what to eat in terms of menus and not just products," she said.

"Although 49% of UK consumers eat pre-prepared meals at least once a week, traditional cooking and eating patterns are by no means redundant.

The challenge for the food industry is to present food in such a way that it meets the needs and aspirations of as wide a group of consumers as possible."

She said this could be good news for food producers who can research new and exciting recipes, such as selling stir-fry sauces with cuts of meat.

'Exotic'

"Ultimately, the switch in demand from basic cuts of meat and fresh produce to more added value products is good news for food producers.

"It is helping to reinvigorate the category and drive consumption of their products, whether it's as an ingredient in a mixed salad or semi-prepared ready meal, or the core component of an exotic vegetable side dish or a full-blown gourmet restaurant experience."

Wendy Doyle, of the British Dietetic Association said it was sad that families were no longer eating together, as family meals provided a good opportunity for families to talk together.

She added that it was important that any new snacks provided were as healthy as possible.

"So many of the snacks are high in fat or sugar that my plea would be that any alternatives are healthy ones," she said.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"Obesity has trebled in Britain since the 1980's"
See also:

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