A sizzling occasion


The UK barbecue market has never been so strong and convenience retailers look set to reap the rewards.

By Elena Dimama

The country’s appetite for a good barbecue has not waned in the slightest in recent years, as Brits barbecued more than ever in the last two years. And although the weather caused a dent in BBQ-related product sales, this year’s Jubilee celebrations and a potentially warmer summer could mean great news for retailers.

According to AHDB, 100 million barbecue meals were consumed during summer 2020, up 44% year-on-year, while in 2021 people still enjoyed a barbecue on 80 million occasions, Kantar found. And although there were fewer BBQ occasions throughout 2021, the value of these has increased 17% – driven by accompaniments – to reach £5.03 per occasion, up from £4.30 in 2019.

The significance of bread

Any good barbecue consists of a great amount of meat, sides and – of course – bread. Rolls saw a whopping 25% increase in sales in the UK in 2020 compared to the year before, although its performance did slow in 2021, due to the bad weather, with £261m in sales. A similar trend was also witnessed by speciality bread, with £43m in retail sales in 2020 (up 4% on 2019) and £42m in 2021, according to Mintel.

Hovis is one of the brands hoping to benefit from a potentially good BBQ season this year, expanding its 1886 range from just burger buns to also include hot dog rolls. “Our range differs from 99% of the market whereby they all offer a brioche style roll whereas Hovis is more of a pretzel style topping,” the company told SLR.

Meat’s the word

Beefburgers featured at 157 million occasions throughout summer 2021, representing 14% more occasions when compared to 2019. Burger sales have been driven by both standard and premium label products with volume growth of 20.6% and 13.5% since 2019.

Sausages were also popular (up 6.8% in 2021 compared to 2019), while marinades also saw volume growth of 7% over the summer of 2021. Beef and pork marinades did particularly well at 26% and 2% respectively compared to summer 2020.

Retailers are gearing up to reap maximum benefits from this year’s BBQ season, with Spar having launched an array of own-label products, including chorizo-style sausages, jumbo hot dogs, quiches plus range extensions on dips. Nisa has also kicked off its barbecue deals, with a four-pack of Co-op Beef quarter-pounder burgers and a Budweiser four-pack for £3.50 for the first bank holiday of the year.

“We know shoppers are always looking to react when the sun shines and SPAR stores are ready and able to fulfil all our customer needs with great value, quality and tasty range of fresh foods whatever the weather,” Joanne Cramer, SPAR UK Senior Brand Manager, noted.

Disposable zeroes?

Waitrose and Aldi have already decided to stop selling disposable barbecues this summer, and the government is reportedly considering that all retailers should follow suit. According to research, more than one million single-use grills end up in landfill each year.

“Single-use disposable barbecues can have an incredibly damaging impact on the environment and local wildlife,” Alex Russell, Head of Sales at online campsite booking site Pitchup said. “Another risk to the environment is that they contain charcoal, which is almost always not sustainably sourced. This means that each disposable barbecue will have had a negative impact on the environment – before it is even used.”