Focus on meal solutions and online recipes says AHDB

Britain’s food producers have been challenged to “tap in” to changing consumer habits and increase their focus on providing meal solutions rather than just ingredients.

This advice is based on the results of a new analysis by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) highlighting a 4.1% year-on-year growth in the convenience food market and an 11% growth in pre-prepared vegetables.

“There is an opportunity here for the industry to tap in to the consumer psyche and position products as meal solutions rather than just ingredients,” said AHDB senior analyst, Steven Evans (pictured above).

“There is also a lesson for us at AHDB, and others involved in marketing activity, to refine and target our online promotional activity.”

Ironically, the analysis was prompted by a new AHDB survey, during which two-thirds of those questioned claimed to cook from scratch several times a week, while two in five said they wanted to increase their repertoire of recipes.

When AHDB looked deeper, however, it reached the conclusion that consumers’ foodie aspirations may outstrip reality, hence the growth in convenience food sales.

“People have a clear desire to cook meals from scratch and try new things,” said Mr Evans, “but hectic lifestyles mean that convenience is king and with retailers investing in ranges designed to slash time spent in the kitchen, people’s view of what constitutes home-cooking is changing.”

In urging producers to respond accordingly, AHDB also revealed that the new survey found that aspiring cooks are increasingly turning online for recipe inspiration.

“Food websites have overtaken cookery books as the main place to find meal ideas for the first time, being favoured by 41% of people,” said AHDB, adding that this was another fact which producers needed to address in the future.

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