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.