What’s Dinner?

Professor David Hughes

Family dinners sitting round the dining room table may be a thing of the past, while younger consumers have switched to eating “mini meals”, according to an international speaker on global food and drink industry issues. 

Professor David Hughes, of Imperial College London, made the comment at an event for food and drink businesses and academics looking at how foods can be reformulated to make them healthier.

“Millennials don't do dinner- if you ask them ‘what's for dinner?’, they say, ‘what's dinner?’. They have mini meals at 7pm, 11pm or whenever they are hungry,” he told around 90 delegates at the Food and Drink Reformulation for Health event held at Murrayfield this week.

Meanwhile, people over 60 are trying to prolong life by eating healthier options and 40% of meals are eaten by people dining alone, with a further 40% being consumed by just two people.

"People are expressing a huge interest in health food but health is trumped by price, taste and convenience," he added.

Delegates also heard from academics specialising in different aspects of nutritional health, as well as businesses which have reformulated products to make them healthier by reducing or increasing certain ingredients, such as sugar and fibre. These ranged from healthy chocolate and low sugar muffins to changing the composition of food to make you feel fuller and using alginates from seaweed in bread to reduce the amount of fat absorbed by the body.

David Thomson, CEO of Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland, said: 

"Our food and drink members in Scotland and across the UK share society's concerns about the health of the nation - particularly in relation to rising obesity levels.  

"A balanced approach covering diet, education and lifestyle is needed. Industry is playing its part in this with reformulation and portion change considered to be the most effective tools for tackling obesity. Food and drink manufacturers have a strong record of successfully voluntarily reformulating products in line with public health goals and consumer expectations.  

"FDF Scotland's recent reformulation event held in collaboration with Interface showcased some of the excellent work food and drink companies are already doing. But they stand ready to do more which is why we are working closely with the Scottish Government, Food Standards Scotland and industry partners to find the best way to improve the Scottish diet."   

Howell Davies, Sector Engagement Project Manager at Interface, said:

“We are working with groups of food and drink producers and industry partners by matching them with suitable academic experts in Scotland to come up with new ways of meeting the reformulation challenge.

“Interface has dedicated Food & Drink experts within their newly formed Sector Team, ready to tap into the world-class expertise and facilities that is available in the 23 Scottish Universities and Research Institutes on behalf of the industry in Scotland. Individual businesses working in collaboration with academia, or working in partnership with other businesses in a group with academia has been extremely beneficial and has generated numerous projects which has led to successful innovative products, processes or services. 

“Some of those businesses and academics were present at the Food & Drink Reformulation for Health event at Murrayfield hosted by Interface and FDF Scotland, and brought to life the huge potential and success of business to academic collaboration.”

Note to editors:

Food and Drink Reformulation for Health was held at Murrayfield Stadium on Thursday 9 February, organised by Interface and the Food and Drink Federation Scotland.

Interface connects businesses from all sectors to Scotland’s 23 universities and research institutions. It is a unique service designed to address the growing demand from organisations and businesses which want to partner with academia.

Interface also identifies opportunities for businesses to work as multi-party groups with academia from all disciplines through its Sectors Engagement team.

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland is the voice of the Scottish food and drink manufacturing industry – Scotland's largest manufacturing sector.

For more information please contact:

Suzy Powell, PR and Communications Executive, Interface.

Tel: 0845 0130536

Email: suzy.powell@interface-online.org.uk