More Meals at Home and Higher Food Costs Equals More Leftovers  

Consumers make roughly 500B meal decisions annually, and, as of February 2022, 86% of these meals were sourced from home. Additionally, restaurant prices due to food inflation and rising operational costs rose faster than grocery prices, making it advantageous to prepare meals at home. More meals to decide on and prepare, concerns about wasting food, and stretching food dollars are why consumers use more leftovers. NPD’s National Eating Trends® reports that in the year ending February 2022, U.S. consumers ate leftovers about 110 times per person per year, the equivalent to 32B annual eatings of leftovers for the population, up approximately 6% from 2020.

Return to Work, School, and Outside Activities Increases Need for Carry-from-Home Food

Employees are returning to worksites, students to schools and extracurricular programs, and consumers are resuming the outside activities they put on hold during the pandemic. With more leaving home for work, school, and activities, food carried from home is rebounding from the pandemic. Breakfast and lunch are the meals or snacks most likely sourced from home and packed to-go. Meals and snacks consumed away from home represented 19% of all meals and snacks, whether prepared at home or ordered from foodservice, in the year ending February 2022, up 5% from February 2021.

Preserving, Storing, and Packing Food To-Go  

Preserving and storing food and leftovers and carrying food from home helped drive the growth of food preservation and storage product sales. Dollar sales of food preservation products, including canners, canning jars, and accessories, have grown by 39% over the past two years. The food storage category, which includes glass, metal, and plastic storing bowls, canisters, and jars, grew sales by over 36% in 12 months ending February 2022 compared to two years ago. Food vacuum sealers, a popular food storage appliance, realized sales growth of 68% over the last two years.

Food Storage Buyer Behavior

In the 12 months ending February 2022, 49% of the U.S. population purchased food preservation and storage products, and the spend per purchase was $11.66, reports NPD’s Checkout Omnichannel Tracking. Brick-and-mortar retail stores, particularly mass merchants, represented the largest dollar share of these purchases, while online purchases represented 33%. Housewares, in general, skew towards online purchases. The immediate need for food preservation and storage products, the ability to see the items in person, and buying on impulse are the likely reasons food storage buyers prefer brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce channels.

“In so many ways, preserving and storing food, the need to stretch food dollars, reduce food waste, and pack meals and snacks to-go, food storage has become increasingly important to consumers,” says Joe Derochowski, NPD home industry advisor. “By understanding demand drivers, food preservation and storage manufacturers can effectively market their products, produce products that meet consumer needs, and better merchandise them.”   

*Estimating Food Waste as Household Production Inefficiency, Yang Yu and Edward C. Jaenicke, Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2020,