At least a third of all consumers are entertaining more often at home than a year ago saysTechnomic Inc., Chicago.

"Consumers tell us that they are enjoying reconnecting with friends in their homes," says Melissa Wilson, Technomic principal. "The appeal is tied to socializing in a very casual atmosphere where everyone brings a dish to share, often sourced from local restaurants or food retailers."

The findings come from Technomic's"POP: Parties Off Premise" study, which officials says is a detailed evaluation of consumer catering opportunities for restaurants and food retailers. From box lunches and party platters to parties complete with off-site food preparation, Technomic says catering is one of the "strongest segments of the foodservice industry and appears somewhat immune to recessionary spending cut-backs."

Technomic also noted ...
... just 13 percent of consumers said they were entertaining less often;
... during the next 12 months -- into 2010 -- 40 percent of consumers expect to entertain at home more often;
... restaurant usage is comparable to use of retailers (68 percent vs. 69 percent) for food sourcing.