Australians Eat Lunch on the Go

With increasing time pressures, working Australians are less likely to bring lunch from home, and eating at the desk or skipping lunch altogether is the reality for many.
Too busy to make lunch, too busy to eat lunch
Around 90% of people purchase their lunch at least once a week and 52% choose to buy their lunch at least half of the time. Also, nearly 60% of respondents admitted to sometimes skipping lunch altogether with around 1 in 6 doing so frequently. “Despite the promises of the 1980’s that with all of the new labour saving devices we’d be working fewer hours, the reality is that we’re working longer” states the researcher Mark McCrindle. “1 in 4 Australians works more than 50 hours a week and when you add in travel times, packing a lunch from home has been squeezed out of most Australians’ schedule. Only 4% take a lunch from home each day.”

Expectation inflation
While 98% of those surveyed believe that employers must provide at least tea, coffee and biscuits, there is a growing expectation that employers should provide more. Over 40% of those surveyed stated that employers should also stock the staffroom with: • Breakfast cereals • Morning tea muffins, pastries etc • Fruit and other snacks • Spreads and bread • Coffee machine

To buy or not to buy
Workers are giving into convenience at lunchtime every week mainly because “it’s quicker to get less healthy options.” Though convenience is the dominant factor, many employees also cited that the variety offered from purchasing their lunch was also very important. In an average week, more than half (54%) said they spent over $20 on lunches. Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 10 spent $60 or more. This figure effectively translates into at least $3000 over the span of a year.

“Many employers baulk at spending money to stock a staffroom with food and equipment for employees. However any saving may prove to be a false economy” stated Mark McCrindle. “With annual voluntary turnover in Australia today now exceeding 13%, a relatively small investment in kitchen facilities and staff room catering can lead to significant savings through staff wellbeing, productivity, and improved staff retention.” More than a kettle
At least 2 in 3 workers expect their employer to provide not just a kettle, but also a fridge, microwave, water dispenser and toaster.

“There is financial stress on many today but this is trumped by the stress and complexity of daily life” Mark McCrindle said. “The average full time worker spends $1400 per year on lunches while 10% spend over $3000 per year.” Cafés trump big franchises
While 1 in 5 can’t keep away from the big name franchises, the proportion of workers who regularly opted to visit the local café/ takeaway instead was double this figure (41%).

Staff kitchens: The key to attraction and retention
More than two-thirds of workers say that a well-equipped staff kitchen would either attract them to a new job or influence them to stay longer with their current employer. Several respondents even commented that such provisions were likely to contribute positively their health, reduce tardiness, and inspire loyalty to a company that demonstrates an interest in their overall well-being.

Source: McCrindle Research
Research method: Focus groups and a survey of 600 people from online panel
About the Author
Mark McCrindle is a full member of the Australian Market and Social Research Society and accredited with their highest qualification: Qualified Practicing Market Researcher. He is bound by the AMSRS ethics, privacy, and professional charter. Mark McCrindle MA, BSc. (Psychology), AMSRS, QPMR

Destination: Desk
Of all the possible destinations, the most common place to eat lunch is at the work desk (28%). This was more than double the amount of people who made an effort to eat outdoors.

Leftovers versus lunches
2 in 3 workers are relying on leftovers for lunch at least once per week. In contrast, when pre-prepared meals are taken to work, 83% make the lunch themselves whereas 9% depend on their spouse to do it for them.

© 2007 McCrindle Research

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