READER REQUEST

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CROSSOVER APPEAL

To the Editors of American Demographics:

I'd like some information regarding the types of clothes women wear when they get home from work. Do they prefer dressing up or dressing down? And do they change as soon as they get home from work? Can you help me find this information?

Elyce Neuhauser

Creative Manager

Spiegel

New York, N.Y.

Dear Elyce:

While it appears that women still dress up and down, they would rather wear just one simple outfit throughout the day. According to the Lifestyle Monitor, an ongoing survey conducted monthly by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Bellamy Research, for Cotton Incorporated, the New York City marketing company that represents cotton growers and importers, women prefer not to change clothes for multiple activities in one day. Between 2000 and 2002, the share of women that opted for a single comfortable outfit a day rose to 60 percent from 54 percent. Women are so pressed for time that it's not surprising that they desire one outfit to carry them through the day.

The casual movement that began in the early 1990s, grew out of a mindset where a lack of time played a role in what folks wear, says Kim Kitchings, director of market research and planning at Cotton Incorporated. Whether married with children or single, most women multitask, packing as much as possible into their days. The last thing they need is another clothing change. “What they need is time,� says Kitchings. “Apparel has been affected by that. Even if we see the needle move back toward tailored apparel, it's not going to go all the way back.�

Women need clothes appropriate for a variety of situations, so it's no surprise that if you take a closer look at women's closets, it's clear that clothes that can crossover from work to weekend appeal to many. Of those surveyed in the first quarter of 2003 for Cotton Incorporated, nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) said a few pieces or more overlap. Sweaters and slacks are among the items that pop up in both work and casual dress. Only 43 percent of women ages 16 to 70 consider their work and weekend apparel “very different.�

When women shop for sportswear, they typically look for casual wear items. This includes everything from jeans and knit shirts to sweaters and sweats. Of the $34 billion spent a year on sportswear, 61 percent goes toward clothes for casual wear, according to STS Market Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based apparel research firm. Only 24 percent goes toward clothes for work, a category that includes apparel such as skirts, dresses and slacks.

When women get home from work, they are quick to shed their work clothes: over 3 in 4 (76 percent) say they change into something more comfortable within the first hour after getting home. That might explain why sweat apparel was a top performer in women's wear for the first half of 2003 — posting double-digit gains, according to STS Market Research. “When you come home, you simply want to go back to something simple,� notes Kitchings.

MEAT MARKET

To the Editors of American Demographics:

I am very curious about the demand for protein in the U.S. How are meat, poultry and seafood competing against each other in terms of consumption per capita? Do you have any data by race, income or region? This is a hot topic. For instance, I understand that close to 70 percent or 80 percent of the protein source in Japan comes from seafood. In the U.S., only 8 percent does, not counting eggs. What a difference!

Carlos Santaella

Frozen Sales Director

Marder Brands, Inc.

New Bedford, Mass.

Dear Carlos:

The amount of meat we consume hasn't changed much over the past few decades. When it comes to per capita consumption of meat, Americans consumed 192 pounds, only 8 percent more in 2001 than in 1970, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

What's more striking is how our meat preferences are changing. Consumption of red meat has trended downward since the 1970s. Beef consumption fell to 63 pounds in 2001, 29 percent lower than the high of 89 pounds per person in 1976. Pork consumption has remained fairly stable over the years.

In contrast, poultry consumption has grown dramatically since the 1970s, rising to 66 pounds in 2001, up almost 100 percent from 34 pounds in 1970. It's likely concerns about high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart problems are driving Americans away from red meat and toward seafood and chicken.

Data from New York-based Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) shows that blacks are more likely than average to have eaten fish or seafood in the past six months. Asians, too, are bigger seafood eaters than average.

Historical trends can explain some consumption patterns. African Americans have become more health conscious in recent years. And they tend to live in urban areas, where seafood is more readily available. People who migrated from Asia tend to come originally from the coasts, which are more populated, and when they come here, they often settle in coastal states, where seafood tends to be more readily available, says Mark Zanger, the Boston-based author of the American Ethnic Cookbook for Students (Greenwood Press, 2001).

Latinos are generally the least likely to eat meat and seafood, according to MRI.

Economic barriers are a factor, says Jorge de la Torre, assistant director of culinary education at Johnson & Wales University's Denver branch, since meat and seafood tend to be expensive in the U.S.

Their origins can be another factor. According to the Census Bureau, the largest group of Hispanics in the U.S. originates from Mexico. Most of them come from the interior, especially places like Guadalajara and Mexico City, where they don't get a lot of seafood. What's more, when they do eat meat, they don't eat huge hunks of it. Real tacos contain cheaper parts, including tongue, ear, brain and offal, such as heart or kidneys, says de la Torre. Whether they're marinated in chilis or stewed for a long time, they're likely to be served, not as a main entrée, but as a side to a lot of rice and beans.

People in the West North Central region tend to eat pork more than average. And there's a reason for that. Iowa is the great pork state, explains Zanger, because it's part of the Corn Belt. Since the corn that is fed to pigs is abundant, pork is cheap there, too. In the Northeast, residents are far more likely than average to have eaten lamb in the past six months, according to MRI. A yen for lamb makes sense, says Zanger, since at the turn of the 20th century, vast areas in New England were deforested and farmers cultivated sheep during a “wool bubble.� Also, it doesn't hurt that the Northeast is the most Anglophile part of the U.S. And the English are known for their taste for a bit of lamb pie.


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