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  1. Analysis
July 30, 2000

Kitchen – what kitchen?

According to the report, 33 per cent of women in the UK agree that cooking and preparing food is too time-consuming. The ready-meals market in the UK is now worth £786m a year and is growing at a rapid rate. The report predicts that kitchens in the home may become a thing of the past, or worse, people will simply no longer know how to cook.

According to the report, 33 per cent of women in the UK agree that cooking and preparing food is too time-consuming. The ready-meals market in the UK is now worth £786m a year and is growing at a rapid rate. The report predicts that kitchens in the home may become a thing of the past, or worse, people will simply no longer know how to cook.

Britons have the fastest food habits in Europe. Henley Centre research shows that every week nearly a third of Britons (29 per cent) order a takeaway meal, compared to only 13 per cent in France and Germany. Seventeen per cent of British consumers eat in a fast food outlet on a weekly basis, nearly two and a half times more than in Spain (seven per cent), and the fast food market is set to grow by a further 14 per cent by the year 2003.

Findings from A Taste of the 21st Century suggest that eating habits in Europe have converged to such an extent over the last decade that regionally we no longer necessarily eat a typical diet. The reputably healthy Mediterranean diet, high in fresh produce, is being replaced by convenience foods in its regions of origin, and being adapted elsewhere to suit local tastes.

Nearly half of all Britons eat alone, even when they don’t live alone, according to Henley Centre research. Eighty per cent of the ready-meals sold in the UK in 1998 were meals for one. More than ever, people are eating alone, not just because they live alone, but because their lifestyle demands the flexibility to do so. The ‘Oxo Family’ is no more, which is precisely why the long-running series of advertisements has finally been retired.

Consumer demand for foods that offer more than just taste and a satisfied appetite has increased dramatically as people need instant nutrition and protection against ill-health. Report research suggests that 70 per cent of people in the UK and France, and 80 per cent in Germany agree that functional foods, where a food has been created with special ingredients to improve health, is a good idea. And, more than half the population in these countries agree that functional foods would be able to improve their health. People may soon be demanding more from that extra slice of cake.

More than half the British population (55 per cent) consider vitamins to be ‘good for you’, whilst nearly half of those interviewed in France (40 per cent) believe vitamins are ‘very bad for you’ according to the Henley Centre. The vitamin market continues to flourish across Europe, but consumer confusion about what’s good and bad has never been greater.

Research shows that a ‘lite’ sandwich or salad at lunchtime is often followed by a chocolate bar and most people now regard this as their number one vice, replacing cigarettes and alcohol. Europeans adopt a debits and credits approach to their diet, with three quarters believing we can eat anything, as long as it’s in moderation, and that self-reward, extravagance and indulgence are just as important as a balanced diet. In the future, we may even see food considered
‘bad for you’ with the ‘bad’ taken out, like coffee with caffeine-free wake up stimulants.

Europeans, on average, are living seven years longer than their forebears of 1960, and feeling healthier for it. In Switzerland, 73 per cent of 65-74 year olds, and 66 per cent of those 75+ say they feel healthy. When asked if their diet could increase longevity, nearly half of the Swiss and UK respondents agreed that it could. As people become increasingly aware of their dietary needs, health insurers may demand that policy holders become more accountable for their personal health. Insurance companies may consider the dietary history and habits of the individual when setting premiums.

Consumer confusion and mistrust of government and other health institutions is on the rise, suggesting food retailers may become more involved in meeting the individual needs of their customers. In the UK, some supermarkets already run cholesterol checks and offer free telephone advice to diabetics, and the next step may be in-store dietary advice. Looking further into the future, the report predicts in-home technology that will prescribe an individual’s detailed, daily dietary requirements.

Cuisines we can heat through a car cigarette lighter may be the way forward to meet the demands of the consumer requiring food ‘on the hoof’. The Henley Centre Report predicts that as people become increasingly pushed for time they will want to marry a desire for healthier foods with convenience. We may well turn to functional, ready-made meals with ingredients to improve our short-term and long-term health.

Commissioned by Novartis Consumer Health, makers of the Aviva range of functional foods, the aim of A Taste of the 21st Century was to identify the main drivers, motivators and barriers for consumers across Europe to eating a healthy, nutritious diet, and project the findings of the report 20 years into the future to create a snapshot of the way we may live and eat in 2020. Research for the report was carried out across the UK and Western Europe, with a specific focus on British and Swiss consumers.

Details of reports from Food Industry News click here

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