NPD Group: Consumers brown-bagging lunch more

by Staff
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ROSEMONT, ILL. — According to The NPD Group, a market research company, brown-bagging is becoming increasingly popular in the American workplace, leading to less business at lunch for commercial restaurants.

"There are a number of factors adversely affecting the mid-day meal business at restaurants, and brown-bagging is one of them," said Harry Balzer, vice-president of The NPD Group. "Certainly the economy, growing unemployment, the erosion of disposable personal income, a slow-down in number of women entering the workforce and more telecommuting options are also influencing consumers’ lunchtime behaviors."

Weekday lunches carried from home reached a new high in 2007, increasing from 35 bagged lunches per capita in 2006 to 38 in 2007, according to the NPD study, "How Brown-Bagging is Affecting Foodservice Lunch."

Males carried brown-bagged lunches most often, but females have driven gains during the last few years, and white-collar professionals with mid-to-high incomes generally had the greatest interest in carrying their weekday lunch from home.

Consumers said financial concerns were the top reason for bringing a lunch from home. Other reasons include health and nutrition, convenience, taste, diet, quality and environmental concerns.

"Consumers are definitely in a cost-cutting mode," Mr. Balzer said. "And make no mistake about it, making lunch at home and carrying it to work saves money. In addition, consumers can control what and how much of it is in the bag."

The NPD Group reported among consumers who usually visit restaurants for weekday lunch, almost half said they are visiting less often.

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