Almost two-thirds of people are now eating outside of traditional meal times, claims new research commissioned by chocolate makers Callebaut.

With consumer eating habits changing, caterers are being urged to reposition their sweet offering to go beyond traditional dessert and tap into the booming all day dining market.

The new poll shows that the traditional three meals a day no longer exist, instead 46% of consumers will eat out mid-morning, with 47% opting for mid-afternoon and 32% eating out late at night.

Delving further into why people eat out, the research reveals socialising with friends to be the main driving force behind consumers dining out (39%), a trend which Callebaut recommends caterers tap into by introducing sharing platters. A collection of scaled down desserts, this concept not only meets the sharing demand but also appeals to consumers of all ages, ensuring desserts have universal appeal. What’s more, sharing platters are ideal for encouraging additional sales from customers who might not have been able to fit in a full-size version.

In fact, 65% of customers say they will be more likely to order a dessert if a sharing platter is on the menu.

The findings also reveal that over half of consumers would be more likely to indulge in a dessert if a mini taster was offered with a drink, such as cappuccino, giving rise to menus which match miniature desserts and beverages.

Robert Harrison, sales director, Callebaut, comments: “With the increasing trend for all-day dining this concept of moving beyond desserts as a third course on a menu is key. Caterers need to be aware of the fact that a slice of cheesecake or a bowl of ice cream just won’t cut it anymore. They need to offer a more exciting range of sweets, market them throughout the day and present them in a variation of styles so that they prove too tempting for diners to resist.

“Including sharing platters, mini selections and personalised dishes are a must if caterers are to encourage customers to choose a dessert. Of course, with the consumer love affair with chocolate showing no signs of easing, caterers need to think about how they can incorporate chocolate in order to maximise their profit making potential. With 50% of customers more likely to order a sweet if there is a chocolate option, our research clearly highlights the hold that chocolate has over a diner’s choice to have a dessert or not – it really can make or break a menu.”

Chocolate is also proving popular first thing in the morning – according to the research, nearly half of people would order a breakfast that included chocolate, prompting the need for caterers to offer more varied breakfast dishes such as waffles, pancake, muffins and pastries.

Robert continues: “With the breakfast eating out market recording steady growth over recent years, there is a key opportunity for caterers to increase morning sales, especially if they introduce chocolate to the mix.”

To inspire chefs and help encapsulate these trends on their menus, Beverley Dunkley, head of Callebaut’s Chocolate Academy, has developed a range of innovative recipes which are available at

Callebaut is also running a social media competition throughout September giving caterers the chance to win a trend pack containing innovative recipes, baking tools and chocolate samples to inspire them to include the trends on their menus.