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The UK cook: A changing breed

July 24, 2015

Whether you produce or sell food and drink, make the tables consumers eat at, the kitchens they cook in or the appliances and utensils that help them, it’s vital that you know about trends in cooking. We are able to bring together a unique set of data sources to provide an insight into people’s attitudes, behavior and aspirations around eating at home. We draw on multiple sources including sales data, consumer trends and forward-focused research exploring homes of the future to highlight opportunities for innovation and growth across multiple food-connected categories.

The Global Overview – Who Are The Experts?

The UK is neither famous for its culinary skills nor deep interest in the subject. It’s therefore not surprising we fall behind many countries in key measures such as time spent cooking, level of behavior and aspirations around eating at home. We draw on multiple sources including sales data, consumer trends and forward-focused research exploring homes of the future to highlight opportunities for innovation and growth across multiple food-connected categories.knowledge and degree of passion for cookery. But behind that headline lies a matrix of change in our attitudes and behaviors in the kitchen.

UKCook1

Time spent cooking

We might reasonably consider the greatest time spent cooking to be during the family years with children at home. But our data confirms otherwise.

This may be explained by the greater availability of time to spend in the kitchen for the over 60s, or a mistrust/dislike of ready meals and the desire to create meals from scratch. In contrast, a busy household with small children may rely more upon convenience food and quick cooking.

The picture that emerges in the UK is that of a mix of creative cooks who use the latest gadgets, to time-pressed or unenthusiastic cooks who prefer the easiness of a ready meal. This presents an interesting proposition for manufacturers offering the range of culinary aids, devices and eating experiences and makes the need to identify your target market correctly a key challenge.

Expanding our knowledge and interest

Television brings us a huge 220+ hours of cookery programs each week. This attracts a total audience figure of around 30 million, nearly half the UK population. Sales of cookery books have also increased dramatically as our interest and desire for cooking expertise has grown.

What does this mean…

  • For food retailers? It is likely that two poles of behavior will continue. Ingredients necessary for cooking from scratch will still be in demand, but perhaps with a more variable focus as certain food types come in and out of fashion.
  • For food producers? Ready meals are here to stay and time spent cooking is lower among the younger generation. For this age group, cooking for fun tends to be centred around particular items or occasions rather than everyday meals. However, the need to deliver healthy, fresh, balanced meals will continue to grow.
  • For cooking utensil manufacturers? Interest in cooking is strong, but the opportunity appears to focus on the premium end of the market – utensils that speed up the cooking process, look good in the kitchen when entertaining at home and offer a healthy cooking method.
  • For kitchen and dining furniture manufacturers and retailers? Kitchens clearly still need to be functional in design to enable time-efficient food preparation and cooking, but they also need to be inviting, enjoyable places to be when cooking for fun. The kitchen must also deliver a pleasant environment to eat, whether for family or for entertaining guests.
  • For domestic appliance manufacturers? We’ve seen how the emergence of the smart home could revolutionize our interaction with our kitchens. The success of connected appliances depend on a few steps for manufacturers and retailers to consider:
      1. Convert the idea of the smart home from ‘nice to have’ to ‘essential to have’.
      2. Create real consumer need by offering appliances at affordable prices.
      3. Ensure appliances are easy to use and address privacy concerns.
      4. Raise awareness and drive demand by promotional activity and partnerships that sell appliances as packages.
      5. Train sales staff to understand and communicate the features and benefits of smart appliances.

With these conditions addressed, smart appliances are a perfect way to drive consumer interest, demonstrating innovation and technological leadership.

Despite the fact that the UK has lagged behind other countries in terms of interest in and passion for cooking, the trend for healthy eating and awareness of how technology can transform our experience of cooking, means that the market is in an interesting period of change. The fortunes of the ready meal market have altered over time, as have the occasions in which convenience foods are used compared to cooking from scratch. These shifts present opportunities for the manufacturers and retailers who are most aware of their consumers’ changing needs.

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