More than half of the population believe that eating together Is
“the No. 1 thing that keeps families together” 
according to SuperValu’s first ever “Home Truths” Report

 The Report shines a light on the Nation’s mealtime habits, revealing a steady trend towards back-to-basics, yet inspirational, cooking 


 

Report Highlights:

 

  • 6 out of 10 of people believe that eating a meal together regularly is the “Number One thing” that keeps families together

 

  • The family that eats together, stays together – over half of Irish families share a meal together more than five times a week

 

  • Irish people are getting more passionate about buying and cooking fresh food  – 78% say they try to cook from scratch as much as possible, with only 16% of families regarding cooking as an “unavoidable chore”

 

  • Irish people enjoy food inspiration – a growing trend enabled by our “sharing culture” - finding and sharing recipes on the internet comes second only to Mum - who is still the main inspiration for 43% of the nation’s cooking

 

  • Families and friends like getting together “their way” - Sunday brunch is now the second most popular meal for almost a third of us, after the “traditional dinner”. 

There is a quiet, everyday mealtime movement taking place around the country, with a back-to-basics tradition of shared mealtimes and cooking from scratch and enjoying what we cook making what some would believe is a very welcome return to the table - according to the first ever SuperValu “Home Truths” Report released today.  

While it’s no secret that Irish people love nothing more than to sit down and enjoy a meal together, the encouraging results of the Report reveal that the tradition of shared mealtimes is very much alive, and hugely appreciated by everyone involved, with more than half of all Irish families surveyed now getting around the table together at least five times a week, with 4 out of 5 (78%) making an effort to cook from scratch.

The SuperValu “Home Truths” Report, developed with clinical psychologist David Coleman,  

is a nationally representative, in-depth report carried out among 1000 respondents, combined with an additional focused study of 400 families living at home with children under the age of 18.

The first of its kind, the report reveals that more than half of the population believes eating together is “the No. 1 thing that holds families together” - with lots of interesting insights into the clear, tangible benefits of spending that time with family and friends over meals.       Despite our busy lives, Irish people are making real, every day efforts to do this – seeing the genuine benefits of shared mealtimes in keeping their families connected.    

 

The benefits of eating together

83% say that meal times spent together enable more open communication amongst everyone, while 64% believe it helps improve their children’s behavior.  It’s not often easy to do though as the “real world” gets in the way, with 3 out of 10 families saying they find it hard, with hectic family members’ schedules the main barrier for 45%, while 21% cite work pressures as the issue for them.    One in three people claim that the meal that makes them the happiest is a meal spent with all the family together, while 18 per cent say the meal they share with their other half is the best for them. 

 

A health-conscious nation getting back to basics – but loving inspiration

The food we buy and eat is becoming a more important part of our lives – four out of five people (79%) try to choose ingredients that are wholesome and healthy; with almost the same percentage (78%) saying they make an effort to cook from scratch as much as possible and a further 58% saying they make an effort to buy locally-sourced foods whenever they can.    Provenance and quality are becoming increasingly important, with 57% saying that they are more conscious of the ingredients in the food they buy compared to 12 months ago while nearly half (45%) of the population saying that they always eat healthy foods, 52% saying they occasionally do and only 3% saying they rarely do.  Almost a third of the population (30%) claims that superfoods have become a staple part of either their or their families’ diet.

One in three look forward to cooking for their families, with 25% saying they get creative and experimental, 19% saying they get excited about what they are going to prepare, while 32% admitted they “stick to the basics” – the tried and tested meals they have always done which never fail.

According to David Coleman, “Even though modern life is busy and, at times frantic, it’s encouraging to see that Irish families see the value in taking some time out to sit down together for dinner. “Social eating” has never gone out of fashion but has perhaps been de-prioritized in hectic and highly pressurized times.  Over half of all families in the SuperValu “Home Truths” Report are sitting down together more than five times a week – and even if this is just for 30 minutes at a time, this is very good news.  This time really facilitates family togetherness and open communication which in turn can positively influence behaviour”.  

Being able to relax, have a laugh and enjoy one another’s company are seen as the best things about coming together for dinner by 60% of the population and the atmosphere at family dinner tables around the country seems to be generally good fun, with Dad being named as number one entertainer.  

Despite a clear and widespread appreciation of the benefits of spending mealtimes with family or friends, the report clearly identifies the main barriers stopping Irish families doing just that - hectic family members’ schedules are the main barrier for 45%, work pressures for 21%, lack of time for 13% and fussy eaters or special food requests for 9%.   

Commenting on the results from the SuperValu “Home Truths” Report, Ray Kelly, Marketing Director at SuperValu, said: “Our first ever SuperValu Home Truths report has come up with an amazing insight – that over half the population believes that eating a meal together regularly is the “Number One Thing” that keeps families together.   The Report shone a very interesting light on what is happening at mealtimes up and down the country and what Irish people - and Irish families in particular – think and feel about the real value of good food for their family and the importance of what happens when they get together with family and friends”.

He continued: “We know that Irish people love to spend quality time with family and friends, particularly around the table but it is very encouraging to see that over half of Irish families actually do get together more than five times a week.   While families recognise and totally feel the benefits of this time in being much better connected, they don’t always get it right - “real life” more often gets in the way.    Despite those daily pressures, it is great to see that half of all Irish families also spend up to half an hour typically eating together when they can.     They want to cook well for their family, using good quality food to enhance their experience as they chat, catch up and share stories of the day or week gone by. ”

Ray concluded: “The Report also highlights the fact that we are getting more and more health conscious and a bit more passionate and adventurous about what we cook and eat. This reflects very much what we see on the ground at our SuperValu stores the length and breadth of the country.”

 

Other highlights from the family Report

Looking in more detail at family habits and behaviours, the report threw up some interesting findings…

  • Six in ten people would like to change something about family mealtimes – the main issue is having the whole family available to sit together, while 17% say that they would love to get rid of all the distractions (like technology) that get in the way of eating together - and 17% yearn for more variety in what they eat.  15% say they wish they had more time to plan and cook the meals, while 11% said they wished someone else would just do the cooking!
  • Everyday family issues dominate the conversation at the table (73%) followed by news or topics from around the world (34%); anecdotes and stories (32%) and family values come as part and parcel of the conversation for almost 20% of families around the country – i.e. different family members views on issues like drink, drugs, sex, technology etc.;
  • Dads rank as the best storytellers or the most entertaining character at the family mealtimes by 27% of families, followed closely by the youngest child at 23%, with the eldest child in third place at 18% and mums at 14%.    Reflecting the demographic of many families in Ireland today, grandparents also feature as “the character” at the table - with 5% of families saying they are the most entertaining in their home;
  • 2 in 3 families have ‘TV-nights’ at least once a week with Saturday being the clear favourite at 65%, followed by Fridays at 45% and Sundays at 19%.  Interestingly, family mealtimes don’t suffer as a result, as 70% say the preferred food when watching TV is snacks with only 12% saying that on those TV nights they have their dinner at the same time.
  • While dinner is still the preferred meal for 7 out of 10 families, circles of friends and families are creating regular get-togethers to suit their own lifestyles with Sunday brunch coming in second place.

Clinical Psychologist David Coleman concluded, I am delighted to see that the findings of the SuperValu “Home Truths” Report reveal results that may contradict some commonly held views about family life around the table in Ireland.  As a nation, we still see value in taking some time out to sit down together for meals and the benefits to family life that come from that. 


We also see that technology and other distractions detract from that enjoyment.  Maybe mealtimes could become the counterpoint to our "always on" social media lives, where we get back to the basics of face to face chatting just because it’s fun!  The SuperValu “Home Truths” Report backs up my long held assertion that us dads are the best craic at the dinner table”.

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