Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s Barbecue feature. There’s nothing like a barbecue on a rainy day under the shelter of a marquee, with everyone wearing anoraks and wellies, to remind you that we’re in Britain and it’s summer time! As we went to press the forecasters were expecting rain until the middle of May. So that’s a wet Early May Bank Holiday then, with downpours expected to match the mood of the double dip recession we’ve been told about.

Whatever the weather does we can confidently expect the bolder barbecue fans to be out there sparking up the charcoal over the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee Double Bank Holiday, and during the European Football Championships, Wimbledon and the Olympics, with the TV rigged up in the garden. Provided there isn’t actually standing water under foot, it should be safe to do so…

Looking on the bright side, when the sun finally comes out, given the reasons to celebrate that we’ve mentioned, entertaining in the garden should soar to new heights between now and the autumn. That gives barbecues serious ‘premium’ potential, and means they 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 food categories there is a trend also towards premium products as barbecue users have grown more adventurous and willing to experiment with new products.

Mintel reports that the barbeque market has posted healthy growth in recent years, admittedly helped by better weather. If the economy stays flat, we can expect a continuation of the trend seen during the recession for staying in and entertaining at home instead of going out, which has also been supporting recent growth. And if it picks up, then people will spend more, so it’s good news all round.

Mintel points to several key development areas in the barbecue sector. First, barbecue foods positioned as quick and easy have potential to win over those consumers who see barbecuing as time-consuming. Next, there’s the growth in the hot sauces market, as people opt to give their barbecued goodies an extra sensory sizzle. And solutions making barbecuing more convenient, including both food and associated products, could tap into those consumers who see barbecuing as a hassle.

So let’s hope the sun returns, and stays out for the summer!

The Grocery Trader

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