TORONTO - A new report that looks at eating trends in Canada suggests that Canadians are eating fewer homemade meals, and gravitating toward convenient pre-packaged meals.
The NPD Group, which provides consumer and retail information to industry clients, bills its report as the most comprehensive annual study on eating trends in Canada.
It says Canadian households consumed an average of 380 meals with homemade dishes in 2009, down from 398 in 2008 and 423 in 2003.
Joel Gregoire, an analyst for the company, says the majority of households see food in a practical utilitarian way, where time and the perception of a nutritional punch continue to rise in importance.
Halifax dietitian Tristaca Caldwell says she always prefers her clients to eat homemade foods.
But she says that if consumers are going to rely on convenient packaged meals, they should check nutrition labels, try to pick foods with high fibre and low sodium, and accompany them with a side salad.
Two-thirds of the consumers who were studied acknowledged that nutritional claims on labels are key factors influencing their purchasing choices.
The report found that sodium, saturated fats and trans fat are the top three ingredients consumers are shunning, while there is interest in seeking out foods that claim to contain fibre, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.