It’s in the bag

As time pressed workers try to cut costs and eat healthier, brown-bagging is becoming increasingly popular in the American workplace, according to a new study ‘ What’s in the Bag and Why Is It in There?’ from Rosemont, Ill.-based The NPD Group. Weekday lunches carried from home reached a high point in 2007, with adults, 18 and older, carrying some 8.5 billion brown bag lunches. More than half were consumed at the workplace, most often at the eater’s desk or workstation.  Consumers carry their lunch from home more often due to financial reasons (93 percent). Health and nutrition concerns ranked second (68 percent) , followed by convenience (64 percent), taste (58 percent), diet (50 percent), quality (49 percent), and environmental concerns (38 percent). Among consumers who typically brown-bag, nearly half said they are doing so more often. Adult males carry more brown-bagged lunches than others, yet quite often, females are the preparers. Brown-bagging is more common among 35- to 54-year-olds, white collar consumers and professionals, and more affluent consumers.  What goes in the brown bags varies, but typically, it’s fruit, chips, and some type of sandwich, but these items differ by gender and age, reports NPD. Cookies replace the chips in kids’ lunches; a poultry sandwich replaces chips for men; and women are more inclined to opt for healthier choices like yogurt and veggies. Among the total population, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the most popular sandwich type and carbonated soft drinks are the dominant beverage choice. “We’re seeing yogurt and frozen entrees gaining in popularity in carried lunches, and lunchmeat sandwiches, chips, or ham sandwiches declining,” says Arnie Schwartz, who heads up The NPD Group’s food and beverage unit. “Over the last several years, leftovers are increasingly a part of brown-bagged lunches.”  “Brown-bagging is an extension of Americans now preparing and eating the majority of their meals at home,” says Harry Balzer, vice president. “Home is not only where the heart is, it’s where the food is too.”