South Africans take the shortest lunch breaks and are one of the most obese nations in the world. Does this have something to do with our eating habits during the week? Nicole Theron, Blue Ribbon Brand Manager for Baked Goods, explains how the brand began the quest to find out how they could understand the consumer needs and solve them in a nutritious and tasty way.

As a brand, Blue Ribbon wanted to learn more about South Africans’ lunchtime behaviour and struggles to ensure that lunch time needs were identified and met. The questions raised looked at how often South African’s make their own vs buying lunch, what their options are and how likely they were to trying new ideas. 

THE CONTEXT

According to the latest South African Demographic and Health Survey, almost two thirds of women, a third of men and 13% of children are overweight or obese. However, while packing a healthy lunch is a great idea, consumers say they battle to find inspiration for nutritious and healthy options. 

THE RESEARCH

We asked a representative sample of both genders in the age group 23-55, from LSM 5-10, across all race groups and life stages, why they opt to buy lunch and what they think of the value they get- whether they have a routine when making lunch and why some of them skip lunch.

Results showed that the majority of consumers (79%) consider lunch an important meal of the day, with only a handful (2%) never eating lunch due to time constraints or not being hungry. Most consumers (67%) pack lunches regularly for two to three people in their family and can generally think of a variety of quick and filling things to make. However, they struggle to find healthy alternatives and about two thirds are willing to change if they could find healthier options. Unfortunately, 49% of them have simply given up and have no inspiration to change. Consumers feel paralysed- a lunch paralysis. 69% of people think they are spending too much money on their purchased lunch and over a quarter do not find these lunches fulfilling.

Whether it’s time constraints, late breakfast, financial constraints or lack of options- lunch paralysis affects the majority of South Africans across the board.

SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Consumers are happy to explore new meals, but safely within their comfort zone. Once they find something they like, a third of the participants said they would stick to it. They do not experiment with food because they are scared of change and taking risks and want to avoid disappointment when trying new food. People want convenience and variety to select from. The Blue Ribbon Squares are available in brown, white, multiseed and oats as well as whole-wheat variants – providing nutrition and delicious variety for consumers.

WHERE TO FROM HERE

“We want to encourage consumers to be more adventurous with food. Although they are scared of change and the risk of trying something they will not like, money is tight for everyone and we need to be sensitive about this. Blue Ribbon Squares are designed to be experimental and versatile and we have partnered with some of the country’s best-known foodies to share recipes and inspirations on how to ‘dress’ a Blue Ribbon Square, making sure your lunch is sorted,” concluded Theron.

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