Fewer Americans love to cook, according to a new study, opening the door for more grocery prepared food sales.
A study conducted by Eddie Yoon — founder of think tank and advisory firm Eddie Would Grow, a director at The Cambridge Group and author of the 2016 book Superconsumers — found that 10 percent of Americans love to cook, down from 15 percent 15 years ago. Forty-five percent hate to cook and another 45% are lukewarm about it.
In a piece published in Harvard Business Review, Yoon says that given the new numbers, grocers must radically rethink what they stock. “The supermarket and grocery business is likely to suffer strong headwinds in the future, due to long-term shifts in consumer behavior,” he says. “Although many people don’t realize it yet, grocery shopping and cooking are in a long-term decline.”
As more people opt to buy prepared meals, grocers need to reallocate shelf space, and manufacturers will need to exit entire categories, Yoon says. That could help reverse recent industry trends, including consumers spending more on food in restaurants than on groceries, customers making fewer trips to the grocery store and prices declining.
“I’ve come to think of cooking as being similar to sewing,” Yoon says. “As recently as the early 20th century, many people sewed their own clothing. Today the vast majority of Americans buy clothing made by someone else; the tiny minority who still buy fabric and raw materials do it mainly as a hobby. If that’s the kind of shift coming to the food industry, change leaders and corporate strategists will have their hands full.”