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Meal times

Eating habits have undergone change

In these fast moving times, mutual enjoyment of food provides social enrichment. Just as the Nagel-Group connects the world of food, eating together connects people. Nonetheless, significant changes have occurred in this respect.

Various studies show that eating together strengthens the bond between individuals and has a positive effect on the development of a relationship. Therefore, this social aspect plays a big role in families. However, eating together has become far less common today. Prof. Jana Rückert-John, sociologist and professor for sociology of food and nutrition at the Fulda University of Applied Sciences, knows that this can have an impact. She says, "Socialisation and education on nutrition are the main functions of the family. Though nowadays, in the light of social developments, the family concentrates on its core function and many educational measures are outsourced. Some of the examples where we see this happening are school lunches in all-day schools and kindergartens, and schools teaching pupils how to swim or ride a bicycle."

A hectic pace and other distractions make it difficult to participate in shared meal times

The constraints and stress of everyday life prevent many families from sitting around the dining table. According to experts, shared meal time lasted an average of 30 minutes twenty years ago; today, it lasts under 15 minutes. According to Prof. Rückert-John, the reasons for this lie in the world of work. She explains, "Above all, the participation of women in the workforce and the changing time patterns are of central importance in this respect. Meal times differ greatly depending on everyday school life, daily routine, and working hours." We often get distracted. We give work and social media our undivided attention. Meal time has been relegated to a mere sideshow, if at all we find time to sit at the table together.

Sales in the food-to-go business sector have shown an increase. Photo: © zinkevych | Adobe Stock

Food-to-go

The trend to carry meals en route has evolved considerably over the past decades. The "Consumers Choice 2015" study shows that some three billion meals were eaten out of home in the last decade alone and that only 42 percent of Germans cook at home. Other European countries show similar figures. Sacla UK's "Eating Out - Today and Tomorrow" consumer survey shows that 59% of British respondents want to eat out with their families regularly in the future. According to the study "What's in our food and on our mind" published by the Nielsen Company, sales in the food-to-go business sector have shown an increase.

Following the coffee-to-go model, you can buy food and drink to-go at almost any supermarket. If people cook less often, they need less groceries. However, retailers have switched to new concepts in order to sustain sales. To-go-shops are being set up increasingly in city centres and railway stations and the product range which includes sandwiches, salad or sliced fruit has been expanded systematically. They serve the urgent needs of their customers and are now in direct competition with fast food outlets and bakeries. Many people who are always on the go have lowered their need for balance and pleasure due to lack of time. Prof. Rückert-John says, "The current structure wields considerable influence since people are always pressed for time and have to meet the demands of everyday life. We no longer take time explicitly for meal times. We rather spend it multi-tasking."

What does this change mean for logistics?

Changes in eating habits can influence the requirements placed on food logistics companies like the Nagel-Group. Dr Christian Fikar, research assistant at the Institute of Production and Logistics at Vienna's University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, expects the logistics sector to face challenges in the future. He says, "Faster and more flexible supply chains are required to meet the high demands placed by the customers on freshness; to prevent product losses and loss in value; and to offer fresh, high quality products to customers. Currently, direct home deliveries are posing a number of challenges in urban areas, for instance, delays and planning uncertainties due to traffic congestion, lack of parking space or driving bans." Despite increased process complexity, this presents a major growth opportunity for food logistics companies. Dr Fikar adds, "During this phase, founders of businesses often lack logistical expertise which can open up new possibilities for exciting and profitable collaborations.

Headerimage: © Prostock-studio | Adobe Stock

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