In another example of people rapidly changing behaviour to save money, we learn from TNS, the market research company, that 28million of us ate a total of 4.2 billion packed lunches in the last twelve months. That's a growth of 6%, or 226 million more lunches.
Making your own sarnies is definitely a lower cost option, with an average spend per lunch box of £1.30p. Each box contains an average of 3.4 items, being the sandwiches, and a combination of a drink, packet of crisps and a sweet treat. Sometimes a piece of fruit is added, but usually alongside the treat as opposed to a replacement for it.
Packed lunches are now a way of life for those in the workplace, particularly young adults, as well as for schoolchildren. But we are generally quite conservative about what goes into the sandwiches. 69% of us stick to the same two types of filling, and cheese and ham remain the most popular.
There are two other lunch box trends which reflect the drive to cut costs. Alot more leftovers are being used, like pasta, and rice to make the lunch more filling. And there is less of a drive to include healthy products, which tend to be more expensive and less substantial.
TNS does not say this but the fact that so many more packed lunches were eaten during the coldest winter for decades when most bodies would be crying out for warm nourishment, highlights the efforts people will make to balance budgets.
Much has been written about Tesco's annual results with most commentators rightly finding much to admire, despite the business losing market share. However, analysts will soon knock the company if share loss continues, and Tesco itself will be smarting from being second best to competitors. The following statement from Sir Terry Leahy should produce a chill in the heart of every Tesco supplier:-
"In the coming year we expect to trade the business harder.....investing more in cutting prices, sharpening promotions, and putting even more affordable products on our shelves".
So the question is who will pay for the price reductions, and who is monitoring that Tesco trades fairly with all its suppliers as it delivers the promised price cuts. Another reason to support appointment of a supermarket watchdog with teeth.