BBQ TIME – It tastes better outdoors

The 2011 UK barbeque season is off to a flying start, thanks to the late Easter followed by the Royal Wedding bank holiday, and entertaining in the garden is set to soar to new heights between now and the autumn.

Barbecues have serious ‘premium’ potential, and continue to offer canny retailers a major profit opportunity.

According to Mintel, the market research experts, the barbecue food market is one of the most dynamic within grocery and represents a challenging opportunity. Contemporary lifestyle trends continue to favour outdoor eating: with the growing interest in outdoor living and al fresco dining, the market continues to enjoy good volume growth as barbecue ownership expands.

However, as with many other categories of food consumption there is a trend also towards premium products as barbecue users have become much more adventurous and willing to experiment with new products.

Mintel reports that two in three adults ate food cooked on the barbecue in summer 2010, with some 120 million barbecue occasions fuelling estimated sales of barbecue foods of some £1.7 billion in 2010. The market has posted healthy growth in recent years, helped by better weather, still a key driver of barbecue occasions, since the washout summer of 2007. The trend for staying in and entertaining at home instead of going out in the recession has also been a key factor supporting growth in recent years, with a positive impact from the World Cup last year.

Further opportunities remain to develop premium-end barbecue foods, to appeal to some 12 million adults who disagree with the view that expensive ingredients have no place on the barbecue. Mintel points to several key areas. First, barbecue foods positioned as quick and easy, perhaps including pre-cooked options, have potential to win over some of the seven million adults who see barbecuing as time-consuming. Next, barbecue dishes positioned as healthy or light stand to appeal to some seven million people who see barbecue foods as often unhealthy, including young families. Solutions making the barbecuing ‘project’ more convenient, including both in food and in associated products, could tap into a pool of over nine million consumers who see barbecuing as a hassle.

In addition, cross-promoting meat thermometers with barbecue food could encourage higher usage among the four million people who are put off by not knowing if barbecue food is properly cooked.

Finally, promoting cooking on the barbecue as a cooking method on its own right could benefit the sector by supporting more frequent usage, as currently only one in five people who eat barbecue food often use the barbecue to just cook for the family. Have a good summer!

The Grocery Trader