Food for thought in new study of our eating habits

by Gary Ibbotson

Bord Bia, the Irish food board, has released the results of an in-depth national study into the evening meal consumption habits of the people of Ireland.

Carried out in partnership with Red C Research, the study was designed to better understand the changing dynamics of people’s evening mealtime habits.

The study involved a nationally representative online survey of more than 1,000 Irish consumers who charted their evening eating habits, resulting in a sample of 5,925 adult and 1,841 child evening meals collected over seven consecutive days.

The research captures consumer intentions to live more healthily and sustainably versus their daily choices when it comes to evening meals.

According to the poll, more than 80% of people put a high level of importance on eating a balanced diet, with four in 10 adults saying that their evening meal choice is based on what foods impact their physical and mental health.

Ethical considerations are also influencing consumer behaviour, as almost three in 10 people feel making choices that are more positive for the environment has a great deal of influence on evening meals.

Commenting on the growing influence of health and wellness trends on dietary choices, Grace Binchy, Bord Bia consumer insight specialist, said: “When it comes to evening meals, this comprehensive study captures a clear intent to make healthy and socially responsible food choices, and people believe they are regularly doing so.

“However, as a growing ‘time poor’ nation, life gets in the way.

“There is a tendency for people to remember the choices they make as being better than they were, and their original intention is not always reflected in their actions.”

Key findings of the study:
• The classic ‘meat and two veg’ meal staple is the number-one evening meal type eaten by adults in 2019, accounting for 11% of all adult evening meals across the seven days.
Chicken dishes and pasta with sauce meals, such as spaghetti bolognese, were in second and third place, at 10%.
• Pasta with sauce meals, such as spaghetti bolognese, was the number-one meal type eaten by children, accounting for 14% of all evening meals.
• 29% of all adult meals include red meat, although chicken follows closely behind at 21%.
• The presence of fish within all meals is at 7%, increasing to 11% on Fridays.
• Dairy is a key part of evening meals among Irish consumers, with 17% of all meals containing cheese.

Top 10 adult meal types:

  1. Meat and two vegetables
  2. Chicken dish (for example, roast chicken)
  3. Pasta with sauce (for example, spaghetti bolognese)
  4. Italian foods (for example, pizza and lasagne)
  5. Diner style favourites (for example, burger or steak and chips)
  6. Fish dish (for example, fish bake or fish and chips)
  7. Light meal (for example, toasted sandwich or beans on toast)
  8. Chinese/Oriental meal
  9. Stew or casserole
  10. Indian dish (for example, chicken tikka marsala, korma, curry)

Top 10 children’s meal types:

  1. Pasta with sauce (for example, spaghetti bolognaise)
  2. Chicken dish (for example, roast chicken)
  3. Meat and two vegetables
  4. Italian foods (for example, pizza and lasagne)
  5. Diner-style favourites (for example, burger or steak and chips)
  6. Stew or casserole
  7. Fish dish (for example, a fish bake or fish and chips)
  8. Chinese/oriental meal
  9. Indian dish (for example, chicken tikka marsala, korma, curry)
  10. Light meal (for example, toasted sandwich or beans on toast)

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