Meals for one boom as consumers embrace the single life

A new study has found that close to half of all Britons now eat meals alone as demographic shifts lead to an inexorable rise in the number of sole occupant households.

Citing divorce, later marriages and an ageing population for the trend the study suggests that supermarkets are failing to keep abreast of these shifts, continuing to stock larger portions and multipacks which may contribute to food waste.

Kantar Worldpanel quizzed 4,000 people to arrive at their findings, discovering that 44 per cent of all meals are eaten in solitude – a rise of a third since 1980.

Ranking the three traditional meals of the day by the likelihood of being alone the researchers found that lunchtime was the time we are most likely to eat sans company with more than half the population eating their daily sandwich alone.

This figure fell slightly for the main evening meal, with just over a third of respondents reporting that they isolated when eating at night with breakfast being the time we are most likely to be in company, with just two fifths of people reporting that they ate alone in the morning.

Outlining the findings Jonathan Firth, of Kantar Worldpanel said: “Even within families mealtimes are fragmenting. We’re now more likely to eat alone even if we live with other people. Society is becoming more individualistic. Partly this is because there is greater choice over what we can eat, so we choose different things. But I suspect that partly it is down to technology.

“Forty three per cent of people say they watch TV while eating but increasingly we are doing that in separate rooms. Dad may be watching and eating in the front room while Mum watches something different on her iPad elsewhere. The kids, meanwhile, are in their rooms watching videos on their phones.”

The home lives of Britons are now almost unrecognisable from how things were in 1960 when a majority of homes housed at least three people whereas today two thirds of all properties contain two or less occupants.

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