Datamonitor’s new report, ‘Capturing Share of Meal’ found that meat is on the menu for many consumers. Rising consumption of convenience meat products has boosted meat’s popularity in the UK, with per head consumption of red meat at around 31kg a year, compared to 19kg for white meat.
Unsurprisingly, consumers have reacted to food scares by abandoning the affected foods on a large scale. Most prominent is the example in 1996 of a drop in beef consumption following the BSE scandal in many European countries. Although beef sales are now recovering, the issue of wide-scale undermined consumer confidence remains.
UK meat, fish and vegetable market size (kg m) and CAGR (% volume) 1996-2000
AGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate
Red meat per head consumption increasing
Datamonitor’s report examined seven European countries and the US. The ‘share of stomach’ splits reveal that the UK and the US closely resemble each other in consumption habits. Consumers in both countries have diets low in fish and vegetable consumption. In the UK between 1996 and 2000, per head consumption (PHC) of red meat grew by an average annual growth rate of 1.9% compared to 0.4% for white meat and 1.3% for vegetables. Fish PHC declined by an average rate of 1.6%. Retail prices of fish have increased in several countries across Europe, but the greatest increases of any country have occurred in the UK, meaning that meat has become more price-competitive with fish. Recovering beef sales since the 1996 BSE crisis have been responsible for improved meat sales in the UK, while vegetable PHC has benefited from the strong association that vegetables have as a part of a healthy diet.
Growing emphasis on convenience and processed products, such as burgers and sausages, is boosting red meat consumption. However, white meats have displayed consistent growth as part of a long-term trend charting their popularity amongst consumers from as far back as the 1960s and 1970s. Chicken meat, which accounts for the majority of the white meat category, has witnessed continued PHC growth by meeting consumers’ needs for health and convenience.
British consumers need more guarantees
“Despite meat being back on the menu, the recent surfacing of the BSE crisis and the concern over its possibility to spread to other animals will undoubtedly put doubts back into the minds of British consumers. Since the first BSE crisis, consumers turned to organic foods for a ‘safer’ alternative and although sales will grow further, there is a limit to the supply of organic food. It is surely time to offer consumers more guarantees and security than just the organic option, such as following the example of Sweden’s Farm Assured Scheme of traceable food,” comments Dominik Nosalik, Datamonitor Consumer analyst and author of the report.
The future of vegetarian foods: meat eaters
More significant than the strictly vegetarian population are the numbers of meat-eaters who are choosing to eat more vegetarian foods in place of meat dishes. For example, between 1996 and 1999 in the UK, the highest growth rate in types of ready meals consumed has been in those that are vegetable based. Between 1997 and 2000, however, the number of strict vegetarians has declined. Many consumers view themselves as ‘occasional vegetarians,’ motivated by healthy eating and taste & variety rather than the ethics of animal slaughter. The taste and variety of vegetarian offerings has improved, meaning that for the ‘occasional vegetarian’ the trade-off between foregoing meat and consuming a ‘healthier’ vegetarian option has lessened.
Despite the shadow of GM, vegetarian foods will continue to grow as a number of innovations ranging from product reformulation not based on soy, organic versions and improved sourcing are being implemented to address the GM issue. For example Heinz’s Linda McCartney range is now based on wheat and not soy. The Vegetarian Society’s ‘V’ stamp on foods also represents food that is GM free. Manufacturers have been quick to respond as consumers of vegetarian products are more likely to be informed and have an opinion over issues such as food safety and ethics, since these form the key drivers of vegetarian food consumption.
Fresh and chilled foods gaining popularity over frozen
The UK has one of the most developed frozen food markets in Europe, however between 1996 and 2000, the market for frozen food declined slightly while fresh food enjoyed stronger growth than frozen. Growing consumer interest in nutrition and health has benefited fresh and chilled foods as consumers equate them with being more nutritious than frozen produce. This perception of freshness encourages retailers and manufacturers to market higher quality premium versions of chilled foods.
From ready meals to meal solutions
Convenience continues to drive consumption away from loose, unprocessed foods towards added value items that solve the growing problems of less time and deteriorating cooking skills. Ready meals continue to show strong growth but as consumers become more affluent, manufacturers increasingly have to compete with foodservice for consumer’s appetites. The next evolutionary step is from ready meal producer to the meal solution provider. Frozen meal kits have recently become very successful in the US and currently represent a US$1.2bn market. Frozen meal kits offer complete meals, large enough to serve a family in a single bag that are quick and easy to prepare. Many ready meals or family sized food products currently available, such as chips and burgers, fail to meet the nutritional requirements that parents will demand for their children. Frozen meal kits overcome this by targeting parent’s desires to offer their children well-balanced foods and not highly processed foods.
*’Capturing Share of Meal’, £2995 or €4995/US$4995. Datamonitor Sales ++ 44 20 7675 7261.
Datamonitor contributed this feature. Datamonitor are independent market analysis experts that publish a wide portfolio of strategic business information. Datamonitor has expertise in the following industry sectors: Consumer Markets, Energy, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrial, Medical Equipment, Technology.See www.datamonitor.com for further details.