As we head for the polls on May 7, here’s an interesting theory – our Barbeque habits could be linked to our confidence in our political masters. The theory is based on Mintel’s last BBQ habits report, which came from 2010. This was the year that gave us the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition, which promised to sort out the chaos left by the previous government. This report shows a marked improvement in the Barbeque market compared to the credit crunch pits of 2007. However, it’s probably got more to do with 2007 being a very wet summer…
In Mintel’s analysis, two in three adults ate food cooked on the barbecue in summer 2010, with some 120 million ‘barbie’ occasions fuelling estimated sales of barbecue foods of some £1.7 billion. The market has posted healthy growth in recent years, helped by better weather, in Mintel’s words still a key driver of barbecue occasions, since the washout summer of 2007. It seems televised sport is another barbie booster: 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 in 2010.
Where the BBQ market goes from here depends on so many things. Innovation is one of them. Further opportunities remain to develop premium-end barbecue foods, to appeal to the estimated 12 million adults who disagree with the view that expensive ingredients have no place on the barbecue.
Convenience and health are also influential factors. 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. 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.
As a final consideration, it will be interesting to see how the country’s feelings about the next government feed into the barbeque market. In 2014, when Britain was in economic recovery but people were troubled about the possibility of Scotland voting for independence, Mintel reported consumers feeling cautiously optimistic about their prospects for the future. If the mood brightens post-election, this could translate into consumers shift some of their focus to taking care of their physical health and nurturing personal relationships. Which means entertaining friends and barbecuing, among other things, as consumers become eager to take time out. We shall see what happens.