Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s Barbecue feature. Readers with long memories will recall the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh standing grimly in the rain on the Royal Barge. As a nation we know all too well about barbecues on a rainy day under the shelter of a gazebo, or a marquee if you’re posh, with everyone wearing anoraks and willies. After all, we’re in Britain and it’s summer time!

chazThat was then. As we went to press one forecaster was saying May was set to see some very decent weather. So assuming he’s right, that’s a sunny Early May Bank Holiday and Late Bank Holiday then.

Whatever the weather does this summer we can confidently expect the hardier barbecue fans to be out there sparking up the charcoal with the TV rigged up in the garden over the World Cup, from Thursday June 12th to Sunday July 13th, and then the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from Wednesday July 23th to Sunday August 3rd. Not to mention Wimbledon and Glastonbury.

As and when the sun 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 retailers a major profit opportunity.

Mintel, the market research experts, say the barbecue food market is one of the most dynamic within grocery and represents a “challenging” opportunity. Lifestyle trends continue to favour outdoor eating: with the growing interest inoutdoor 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. As the economy 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 with inspired products like Encona. 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 comes out and stays out for the summer!

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