Are we really as cash rich, time poor as we think? Mintel’s new British Lifestyles report indicates that we’re clawing back time for the important things – and this includes food preparation.
Each year, Mintel’s flagship report, British Lifestyles, focuses on a particularly topical lifestyle trend, analysis of which threads the report’s exclusive findings together. To mark the 20th edition of this publication, Mintel this year decided to look at one of the most influential trends on British society to date – the impact of convenience. Surprise surprise, food got a few mentions.
Undoubtedly our lives have been transformed by the introduction of a plethora of convenience products and services that save us time and energy. With all these in place and at our fingertips can we really still be considered a cash rich, time poor society?
The overall food market has grown relatively slowly (32% growth) over the past ten years. But when we look at the separate sections of the food market, different foods have had very different fortunes.
The real star of the food market has been the convenience foods sector. This has grown by an impressive 70% over the past ten years – massively more than the staple foods, such as dairy, bread, meat and fruit and vegetables.
Not only has the convenience food sector grown the fastest over these years it is also the largest sector, as almost £17bn (US$31.2bn) was spent on convenience food in 2003. This is a billion more than in 2002 and amounts to almost a third (32%) of the total spend on food.
More people cooking
But time is not necessarily the main issue here as fewer than one in five (19%) feel that they do not have the time to prepare meals; this is down from almost one in four (23%) ten years ago.
“It may be that we do not want to have to think about what to cook or because we want to be able to watch a favourite TV programme while dinner is cooking. Of course, it may just be that many of us feel that we can’t really cook the dishes from scratch. Today there is such a huge choice of ready meals available that people can now enjoy exotic and sophisticated dishes in the comfort of their own home, whether it is alone or with friends. It is no surprise then that some 80% of British homes now has a microwave,” comments Peter Ayton, chief statistician at Mintel.
The eating out market has grown over the past ten years, with people spending more than £25bn on eating out in 2003 – 60% more than in 1993. This clearly shows that the British today have money in their pockets and are choosing to spend it on enjoying themselves.
Fastfood still a takeaway success
A decade ago, fastfood was the largest sector of the market and this is still very much the case. Today we spend a massive £10bn on hamburgers, fried chicken, chips and other fastfood. But as sales of fastfood grew by 80% between 1993 and 2003, the difference between what we spend on fastfood and what we spend in restaurants has widened noticeably since 1993. The same is true of what we spend on pub food.
Between 1993 and 2003 the takeaway market grew by 86%, while the eating out market has grown by just 50%. What is more, today some 80% of adults eat takeaway meals, with one in six (17%) eating them at least once a week.
“This trend shows just how much quick service and cheap prices mean to the majority of convenience junkies. The fact that you can eat in, takeaway or quickly drive thru has also helped. Simply grabbing a bite to eat, taking it home and eating it, often in front of one of the televisions as opposed to going out for a meal is becoming more and more popular,” says Peter Ayton.
This trend is also shown in the drinks market with the market for drinking at home growing that much faster than that of drinking elsewhere.
For more information about Mintel’s survey, click here.