Demand for food in general will decline, due to an aging population, according to a new report.

A less than 1 percent annual increase in total food and beverage demand will not be enough to stop a decline in consumption occasions per capita due to the increase in older Americans, according t othe Chicago-based market research firm The NPD Group.

The number of annual eating occasions per capita in the U.S. has been on a steady decline, NPD reports in its recently released Eating Patterns in America. U.S. consumers will average 1410 eating occasions per capita this year, or over 461 billion occasions for the total U.S. population, compared to 1453 occasions in 2009. 

“Food and beverage consumption in the U.S. is perhaps the clearest definition of a ‘mature market,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “The balance between consumers eating in home or away from home has been stable for the past two years and neither the food retail or foodservice industries are increasing their ‘share of stomach’.”  

The percentage of meals sourced in home increased gradually from 2002 to 2012 and currently 82 percent of meals are sourced from home. The balance of in-home and away-from-home has been stable since then. While both food retail and foodservice remain flat, there are variations in consumer choices between in-home and away-from-home by daypart and food categories, Portalatin says. For example, the share of in-home meals that include a blend of a prepared at home items and prepared away from home item has been steadily increasing and is forecast to grow.

“One thing remains certain: consumers must eat,” says Portalatin. “While it’s true that finding growth in this market is challenging for food and beverage marketers, those that focus on being meal solutions providers by understanding consumers’ needs and wants have the best shot at winning share.”