|October 14, 2004, as reported
by just-food.com: British consumers are spending more on
comfort foods a total of £920m (US$1.66bn) in 2003, according
to a new report from independent market analyst Datamonitor. It is
a trend the analysis firm expect to continue well into the future.
“As the pace of life increases, the role for self-indulgence
and treating in consumers’ everyday lives is becoming more
important, and self-indulgence is a common way of combating the
effects of stress,” said Lawrence Gould, consumer markets
analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.
Datamonitor forecasts that consumers’ expenditure on premium
indulgence and comfort foods will increase by 27% to £1.2bn
in 2008, and the number of premium treats per person per year from
50 in 2003 to 63 in 2008. For manufacturers, the treating occasion
represents an opportunity to capitalize on consumers’ desire
for quality over value-for-money by focusing new product development
and marketing efforts on the indulgence aspects of products.
Chocolate is at the forefront
Chocolate is for many the ultimate stress buster, accounting for
43% of total spent on premium indulgence. Categories showing the
greatest growth are snack nuts, juices and bread. Although the market
for premium snack nuts is currently very small with an overall value
of only £6.2m in 2003, it is forecast to increase by 40%,
to almost £9m in 2008. Juices are the second fastest growing
category, with forecast sales of £151m by 2008. Bread has
also benefited from this self-indulgence trend as consumers have
rediscovered bread produced according to artisan, traditional methods,
with higher quality ingredients. Many supermarkets now offer a wide
variety of premium breads from in-store bakeries. Sales of premium
bread are set to increase by a third, from £190m in 2003 to
£252m in 2008.
Premium snacking is a small oasis of 'me time'
Stress and the subsequent need to unwind and relax is one of the
main drivers behind the increase in self-indulgent food and drink
consumption. Self-indulgent treating fulfils a very important psychological
function. Indulging in a premium snack is a self-centered activity,
a small moment of relaxation, of “me-time”. Although
this applies to snacking generally, it is particularly relevant
to premium snacks, which have a higher focus on indulgence, taste,
Manufacturers can take advantage of this by positioning their products
as rewards rather than simply as products that provide functional
and tangible benefits. This blurring of consumers’ perception
of what constitutes a need and what is merely a desire is becoming
part of regular consumption behavior, which is a trend likely to
endure since people do not generally cut down on necessities. This
suggests healthy growth in this sector for the future.
Gratifying the tastebuds takes higher priority
Despite the growing awareness of the health-related pitfalls of
indulgent-snacking, consumers are not generally prepared to abandon
the pleasure that they derive from treating themselves. Whereas
a higher focus on health can inhibit sales of snacks overall, this
does not have the same effect on premium treating.
“Premium treats are not necessarily unhealthy and at any
rate are not consumed in the same volumes as standard products.
They are primarily selected for their indulgent qualities rather
than with any health-related concerns in mind,” said Gould.
However, health concerns are limiting the growth in treating occasions,
although when consumers do indulge they now opt for higher quality,
more indulgent products – a “less of the best”