Young man eating breakfast at the balcony

“Alone in the Morning.” Is that the title of a new podcast, or a paint color? Neither. It’s the latest trend in American food culture. Actually, it’s the evolution of a major trend in eating behavior that made a hard U-turn at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.  For years, Americans were marching steadily away from commensality and toward individualistic eating rituals. In 2019, across all eating occasions, 47% of occasions occurred alone. In 2020, that number dropped significantly to 43%.  The biggest changes between 2019 and 2020 were seen in the early morning snack (51% in 2019 down to 41% in 2020) and morning snack (59% in 2019 down to 46% in 2020) occasions. And in 2021, just 41% of all eating occasions were alone.

Clearly, working and studying at home had an impact on who we were eating with, especially in the early part of the day.  Our latest occasions-based report, A New Landscape of Eating 2022, illustrates how strong the currents of culture can be. Currently, alone eating occasions represent 44% of all eating occasions which is not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, but it does represent a statistically significant uptick since 2021. The undertow of individualism is pulling us away from each other again, even if just in the morning (45% of early morning snacks are alone and 49% of breakfasts are alone).

It’s not personal, it’s pragmatic.  The return to the physical workplace and early morning routines that take us out of our homes and away from each other are responsible for our lack of sociability in the morning. True. But…consumers are empowered to make choices. The pandemic clearly taught the food and beverage industry that lesson. Consumers choose to eat alone for a host of functional and emotional reasons, and these are powerful drivers that can fuel new product innovation. The trend is clear, alone eating in the US is here to stay.

Not sure how to make “Alone in the Morning” work for your business? Well, there’s no need to boil the ocean. The Hartman Eating Occasions Compass can point you in a winning direction as you navigate the ebb and flow of food culture.

Learn more about how to seize occasions opportunities with our free download that highlights key findings from the report and concludes with a selection of key takeaways and implications for food and beverage companies, including CPG brands, retailers, and food service establishments.

Download the free excerpt [here].

The full 73-page A New Landscape of Eating: 2022 Eating Occasions Report (available in PowerPoint and PDF formats) includes in-depth analysis of the contexts & characteristics of 2022 eating occasions (including generational and daypart differences) including a spotlight on price sensitive occasions and detailed dashboards (3 slides each) for the 8 eating occasions dayparts (Early-Morning Snack, Breakfast, Morning Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack, Dinner, After-Dinner Snack, and Late-Night Meal/Snack).

Find more information about what is included and purchase the full A New Landscape of Eating: 2022 Eating Occasions Report [here].