chaz1According to research experts Mintel, barbecue foods were worth around £371m in retail sales in 2008 in the UK, following annual average growth of over 10% for the previous five years.

The money spent on BBQ foods here each year is a direct reflection of the prevailing weather conditions. No surprises there, then. No one wants to go out and cook when it’s chucking it down, but when the sun’s out everyone wants to eat outside.

Given the uncertainties of the British climate, barbecues here tend to be spontaneous rather than planned events. Although consumers tend to prefer chilled foods for the barbecue, there are few barriers to the use of frozen foods, especially for the spontaneous barbecue. Spontaneity is the secret to enjoying barbecuing – if it starts to rain halfway through, you can always bring the food indoors, give people another drink and carry on cooking it…

When the sun is out, barbecuing is fast becoming something we do every day. Mintel point to increased BBQ use during the week as another factor driving market growth, with six in ten consumers who barbecue doing so during weekdays.

A further driver has been premiumisation and increases in meat prices. Back in 2008 the recession was already a fact of life, hence at that time Mintel were predicting BBQ foods increasing at a slower rate due to the impact of tightening consumer budgets.

Barbecues now involve a wider range of food products, reflecting consumer interest in new foods and flavours.

Nevertheless, the traditional favourites – sausages, poultry and burgers – remain the largest segments of the barbecue market. Marinades and sauces, prepared kebabs, fish and seafood have shown substantial growth in recent years.

While younger consumers remain the most important participants in barbecuing, the barbecue has appeal across all age and socio-economic groups, and among families. Not surprisingly barbecuing is least popular among older consumers and those who live alone.

Foodie culture is impacting on attitudes towards barbecues with many consumers, especially women and affluent consumers, playing an active role in preparing their own barbecue foods such as kebabs, burgers or marinades.

Finally, barbecuing isn’t exclusively about meat by any means. Consumers wishing to reduce the meat content of their diet are driving the use of vegetarian products on the barbecue, with products like veggie sausages doing particularly well. Barbecuing vegetables and fruit has shown the largest rate of growth, albeit from a small base.

The Grocery Trader

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