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How Americans Eat, According to Uber

The survey reveals Americans' changing eating habits, food preferences, dislikes and delivery attitudes.
December 14, 2017

​SAN FRANCISCO – Uber Eats, Uber's standalone meal delivery app, released findings from its first-ever "How America Eats" survey, capturing data and trends from U.S. adults across generations and regions.

The survey reveals Americans' changing eating habits, food preferences and dislikes, and guilt-inducing delivery attitudes. Some key takeaways include:

  • Brunch is Dying: What was once the trendy meal for Gen X is taking a major hit. Eating supper, a late-night meal, at least once a week is now nearly twice as common as brunch.
  • At least half of U.S. adults have at some point eaten food that they know is expired (56%) or food that has fallen on the floor (50%)
  • Most millennials (89%) admit to texting while dining out
  • 43% of Americans say they are a picky eater

"The eating habits of Americans are ever-evolving, and we believe it's important to just as constantly find ways to more deeply understand what, where, and when people eat, and ultimately why. If we better understand our eaters, we can better serve through products built with their needs in mind," said Jeanette Mellinger, head of Uber Eats User Research. "It's clear that today's everyday eating is a challenge for many, and we're excited to build a product that is making eating easier, in 2018 and beyond."

Additional findings from the study include:

Eating Habits
Parental Advisory: 60% of parents admit to eating their kids' leftovers at least sometimes, with 26% do so always/often.

Who is the Pickiest? 43% of Americans say they are a picky eater. Half of millennials describe themselves as picky, compared to a third of Baby Boomers.

Salty vs. Sweet: Generation X (28%) and Baby Boomers (27%) tend to prefer salty snacks, while millennials (24%) tend to crave sweets.

Food Delivery Habits
Romance, Delivered: Couples are twice as likely to order in delivery than singles.

Netflix and Binge: For more than half of adults, it's about binge eating when watching TV (57% of all U.S. adults overeat at least sometimes when watching TV). TV-watching is the biggest overeating trigger for millennials in particular (78% do it at least sometimes; including 38% who do so always/often), even more than being alone (72%), sad (53%), or stressed (63%).

Keeping the Peace: About 1 in 4 couples who ever order delivery (23%) say they often argue over which restaurant to order from, and will at least sometimes order from two restaurants if they can't resolve their differences (24%). Nearly 4 in 10 parents who ever order in delivery (36%) do the same, sometimes ordering from multiple restaurants just to keep the peace among their children. The same goes for cooking: 54% of parents and 28% of couples will at least sometimes cook multiple meals at once to accommodate different preferences.

Guilt Trip: More than two in five (43%) adults feel guilty when they order delivery. And the most popular time or occasion for people to order delivery is when there's bad weather (33%).

Etiquette
Office Etiquette: One fifth of workers (21%) admit to sometimes stinky food at their desk, and 12 percent of the workforce admits to sometimes stealing a co-worker's lunch (either accidentally or intentionally). These behaviors are most common with millennials, who are more than four times as likely to eat a stinky meal at their desk than their baby boomer counterparts (31% vs. 7%).

Dining Out
Pass on the Family-style: 27% of adults say they hate or dislike sharing food with others they're dining with, and 22% say they hate or dislike dining in large groups. Furthermore, five percent of adults hate it if other people order the same dish as them when dining out at a restaurant.

Bills, Bills, Bills: The most common way to handle the bill while dining out with friends is to itemize it (i.e., each person only pays for the items they eat, 46%), followed by splitting it equally (36%). There also appears to be some regional differentiation, with those living in the Northeast (51%) more likely to split equally, while those in the Midwest (57%) and South (53%) more likely to itemize. Westerners are mixed in their opinion.

(The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Uber Eats within the United States between October 26 and November 6, 2017, among 1,019 U.S. adults age 18 and older. The Full study and results can be found here: http://bit.ly/2BiUm74.)