2006 B&I Census Report: Reinventing the meal

With revenues flat, B&I market’s top challenge is to create value-driven meals.


Office worker survey shows that 75% of B&I customers frequently eat at the desk.

More than 90% of corporate dining operations participating in the FSD B&I Census offer foods for grab-and-go, confirming that the shift away from meal consumption in the dining facility is now a way of life.

The trend created what Impulse Research Corp. of Los Angeles calls "Cubicle Culture" and prompted it to conduct a survey last fall to determine the extent to which workers are eating at their desks.

According to survey results, three-quarters of desk-workers eat at their desk at least two to three times per week. Nearly half, though, say they eat at their desk "nearly every day."

Lunch, of course, is the most frequently consumed "desk meal," eaten by 75% of respondents. Almost 60% typically consume snacks throughout the day while 31% have breakfast at their desk.

Time crunch: Frequency of desk-eating may be correlated to length of lunch hour. Just under 10% say they get an hour or more for lunch; about 37% say they take 30 minutes to an hour, while one-third get 15 to 30 minutes for their mid-day meal.

When asked to describe their workplace culture at lunchtime, 38% of respondents said: "What lunchtime? Most people are lucky to get a bite at their desks." Just under one-third say lunchtime offers a chance to socialize with colleagues, while the remainder call it a "relaxing diversion from work."

What comprises their typical lunch? For nearly half, it's sandwiches, fruits and vegetables. About one-fifth bring leftovers from home, while another one-fifth get themselves a hot lunch (though the study doesn't specify the source: cafeteria or restaurant).

Health concerns: The rise of desk-eating, while convenient for workers, has health officials concerned. "It's a bad idea on a lot of levels, psychologically and physically, to eat lunch at your desk," says Elisa Zied, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She's concerned that desk-eating limits workers' physical activity and could encourage over-eating.

PDF icon FSD_B&I_Census_May06.pdf

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