chaz1Rain or shine, from Easter through to September Brits love a good Barbie, given the chance. And it means ‘hot’ business all round for the nation’s supermarkets, Co-ops and convenience store chains. 

Retail research experts Mintel quote figures for 2008 showing a growth in both barbecue occasions and the value of the BBQ foods market, following a disappointing 2007. The total barbecue foods market in 2008 was estimated at £371m, and annual average growth over the five years to 2008 topped 10%.

This is of course a market that fluctuates wildly with the weather: as Mintel point out, summer 2008 was warmer than 2007. Figures for 2009 aren’t to hand, but the anticipated BBQ summer famously didn’t materialise, so presumably the growth slowed.

So what of this year? As always, the amount of sun we’ll get is anyone’s guess. Whether people go bonkers for barbies during World Cup 2010 remains to be seen; much of the food and drink that the supermarkets and everyone else are setting their sights on shifting over the next few weeks can of course be enjoyed with a BBQ, just as much as on a match evening with a crowd in to watch the big game.

While younger consumers remain the most important participants, barbecuing appeals across all age and socio-economic groups and among families.

Barbecues now involve a wider range of food products, reflecting consumer interest in new foods and flavours. Nevertheless the traditional BBQ favourites – sausages, poultry and burgers – remain the largest segments. Marinades and sauces, prepared kebabs, fish and seafood have shown substantial growth over the last few years, as have vegetarian alternatives to meat.

Staying with the BBQ trends, increased weekday barbecuing has also helped grow the market, with six in ten consumers who barbecue holding barbecues on weeknights.

A major value driver in recent years has been increased meat prices, with demand continuing to hold up despite sharp hikes. Consumers trading up in their favourite product categories has added value to the market: a number of specific segments such as sauces and marinades have seen major growth, both in value and volume, and in the number of products available.

In addition, foodie culture and celebrity cooks are impacting on attitudes towards barbecues with many consumers, especially affluent ones, preparing their own kebabs, burgers or marinades.

Looking ahead, continuing tight consumer budgets thanks to the slow recovery from the recession mean BBQ foods are likely to increase in value at a slower rate in the next years.

The Grocery Trader

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