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Solitary Meals Nearly as Common as Communal

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Nearly half of adult eating occasions — 46% — are a solitary affair, finds new research from The Hartman Group that attributes the behavior to increased snacking, eating at one’s desk and less emphasis on family meals.

“We don’t place as much importance on meal consumption and this runs through every cohort — Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and even Gen Y kids these days because parents aren’t placing an emphasis on meals anymore,” Melissa Abbott, senior director of culinary insights for The Hartman Group told SN.

Americans are, however, placing importance on snacking for health, said Abbott, who’s observed subjects packing snacks like hummus and crackers to maintain adequate blood sugar and satiety throughout the day.

Food retailers are also responding to the trend. Kroger seems to have modeled snack packs comprising cubes of cheese, clusters of grapes and bits of salami after Starbuck's Cheese & Fruit, Chicken & Hummus and Protein Bistro Boxes, noted Abbott.

With roasted beets and an extensive range of healthy grab-and-go-snacks, Duane Reade is also getting things right. “It’s really upping the ante on higher quality, fresh and less-processed foods,” Abbott said.

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