Consumer Corner: Lunch Trends in Canada

Download 200K pdf file ("cdn_lunch_Aug20.pdf")PDF
     Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
 Introduction | Prepared and eaten at home | Carried-from home lunches | Role of restaurants at lunch | Fastest growing food at lunch in restaurants | Did you know? | Information sources

Lunch is a meal that consumers carry from home, eat in restaurants, eat at home, or simply skip (see figure below).  The “Pick’n’Pack” meal, a meal prepared using a combination of pre-packaged, pre-made foods, is increasing in popularity.  It makes it easier for consumers to carry a lunch from home and assists consumers in skipping fewer lunches.

Prepared and Eaten at Home

Consumers are generally still eating the same foods they ate 10 years ago. They are:
  1. Sandwiches (excludes burgers/hot dogs/Mexican)
  2. Soup
  3. Fruit
  4. Vegetables
  5. Salads
  6. Non-toasted bread
  7. Cookies
  8. Toast
  9. Pasta dishes Cheese
  10. Cheese
Over the past two years, the % of Canadians who ate soup, pork (excluding pork chops), pickles/relish/olives, cheese and chicken (excluding wings and nuggets) has increased.

Carried-from Home Lunches

Top 10 fastest growing foods for lunches carried from home are:
  1. Pizza (excludes pizza novelties/snacks)
  2. Yogurt
  3. Cake
  4. Fruit
  5. Vegetables
  6. Pudding/gelatine
  7. Cheese
  8. Snack Bars
  9. Casseroles/one dish meal
  10. Sandwiches (excludes burgers/hot dogs/ Mexican)
Half of the top 10 fastest growing foods are pre-made/pre-packaged foods that can easily be assembled together to create a meal (i.e. Pick’n’Pack). Nearly all foods that are being carried from home require little or no preparation.

Half of the top 10 fastest growing foods are pre-made/prepackaged foods that can easily be assembled together to create a meal (i.e. Pick’n’Pack). Nearly all foods that are being carried from home require little or no preparation.

Role of Restaurants at Lunch

Over the past 10 years, eating lunch at restaurants has steadily gained in popularity. However, for the past two years there has been almost no increase in eating frequency of lunches in restaurants.  In 2008, the average Canadian consumer ate at a restaurant 106 times. Of those restaurant meals, 39 were lunches.

About 58% of lunches are from quick service restaurants, followed by 17% from family/midscale restaurants and 16% from casual restaurants.  The remaining lunches are from retail.(1) ( 1Based on  traffic in restaurants. Excludes meals sourced at restaurants and eaten at home).

Top 10 foods eaten at lunch in restaurants
The most popular food items from fast food restaurants are losing volume to perceived better-for-you items such as sandwiches, soup, and seafood/fish. The top 10 food items eaten at lunch are french fries, burgers, chicken/poultry entrees, salads, deli meat sandwich, hot chicken sandwich, soup, seafood/fish, and Chinese/Cantonese/Szechwan, and pizza.
Fastest Growing Food at Lunch in Restaurants
a(based on servings; excluding eaten at home)
  1. Soup
  2. Hot Chicken Sandwich
  3. Burgers
  4. Deli Meat Sandwich
  5. Pork Entrees
  6. Eggs
  7. Seafood/Fish
  8. Thai/Korean/Vietnamese/Other
  9. Bacon/Sausage
  10. Fruit
Soup is losing share in the carried from home category but is winning at restaurants. This is mainly driven by the growth of soup in combo meals. Soup in combo meals made up 39% of total soup meals in 2008.

Did you know?

Ten years ago parents children ate different foods than parents. Now, children and parents tend to eat the same foods, suggesting households are no longer willing to carry two sets of groceries, and prepare two different meals.

The average person who skips lunch will do so 43.2 times per year.

Information Sources

Source: NPD Eating Patterns in Canada Report, November 2008

The information in the NPD Eating Patterns in Canada Report is based on four different NPD Group services.

  • National Eating Trends (NET) tracks consumption behaviour relating to retail and restaurants.
  • HealthTrack survey adds an attitudinal component and health/diet status to the NET database.
  • SnackTrack tracks the consumption and sourcing of snack foods by individual.
  • REST collects information about purchases of prepared foods and beverages at restaurants
Consumer Corner - Lunch in Canada in pdf version

Other Documents in the Series

  Consumer Corner
Consumer Corner: Halal Meat Market Demand - what does it look like?
Consumer Corner: The 2016 Canadian Census - An Alberta Perspective
Consumer Corner: Sugar - The Sweeter Side of a Unique Canadian Industry
Consumer Corner: Understanding Consumer Trends and the Push to Innovate
Consumer Corner: Genetically Modified (GM) Foods and Consumer Concerns
Consumer Corner: Canadian Consumer Perceptions of Meat Preparation
Consumer Corner: Demand for Processed Meat
Consumer Corner: Millennials - who are they and what do they like when it comes to food?
Consumer Corner: Demand for Dairy Milk and Milk Alternatives
Consumer Corner: Generational Differences and Demand for Food
Consumer Corner: Insect Protein, a Fad or Future Need?
Consumer Corner: Snacking and Mini-meal Trends in Canada: How to take a bite out of Canada's snack food market.
Consumer Corner: Functional Foods
Consumer Corner: Barley -- A Nutritional Powerhouse!
Consumer Corner: Growth of the U.S. Organic Market
Consumer Corner: Pet Supplements and Nutraceutical Treats in the U.S. -- 2013
Consumer Corner: Benchmarking Domestic Consumption of Pork
Consumer Corner: Understanding the Consumer Mindset on Sustainability
Consumer Corner: Gluten-Free -- What's it all About ?
Consumer Corner: The Morning Rush: Breakfast Trends in Canada
Consumer Corner: Canadian Pet Market Outlook, 2014
Consumer Corner: Emerging Consumer Trends and New Opportunities for Small and Medium Business
Consumer Corner: Market Trends for Fruit and Vegetables
Consumer Corner: Yogurt Market: Current Status and Consumption Trends
Consumer Corner: Changing Food Retail Landscape in Canada and Alberta
Consumer Corner: Canada's Ethnic Landscape: Eating Patterns among the Asians
Consumer Corner: Snacking Trend, an Opportunity for Restaurants
Consumer Corner: Millennials: Meet the Boomer's Kids (Part 2: Consumption Habits of Millennials by Meal Occasions)
Consumer Corner: Millennials: Meet the Boomers' Kids (Part 1: Profile, Food and Beverage Consumption Habits and Attitudes)
Consumer Corner: Local Impact of a Global Crisis: Increasing Food Prices
Consumer Corner: Fresh Pet Food in North America
Consumer Corner: Snacking in Canada
Consumer Corner: Canadian Baby Boomers - Part 2: Consumption Habits of Boomers by Meal Occasions
Consumer Corner: Eating Pattern Recession - Part 3
Consumer Corner: Canadian Baby Boomers - Part 1: Profile of Boomers, Their Food Consumption Habits and Attitudes
Consumer Corner: Sodium/Salt and Canadian Diet: Pass the Salt Please! or Hold the Salt Please!
Consumer Corner: Eating Patterns in Canada -- Part 2
Consumer Corner: Eating Patterns in Canada - Part 1
Consumer Corner: The Impact of Health on Eating Behavior of Canadians
Consumer Corner: Emerging Consumer Demand for Premium Foods & Beverages in Canada (Qualitative Research Evaluation)
Consumer Corner: Factors Influencing Pulse Consumption in Canada
Consumer Corner: Health and Wellness
Consumer Corner: Dinner Trends in Canada
Consumer Corner: Lunch Trends in Canada - Current Document
Consumer Corner: Breakfast Trends in Canada
Consumer Corner: Canadian Food Trends 2009
Share via
For more information about the content of this document, contact Jeewani Fernando.
This document is maintained by Erminia Guercio.
This information published to the web on July 30, 2009.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 6, 2014.