Stephanie Moe, Food and Beverage Division, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
One of the strongest consumer trends to emerge in recent years has been a return to home-cooking and baking. Previous Mintel research showed that 44% UK consumers claim to be cooking more from scratch at home, instead of eating out while Bord Bia’s study What Ireland Ate Last Night found that 40% of Irish consumers are now claiming to cook dinner from scratch (using fresh ingredients), with half of adults meals and a quarter of children's meals reportedly prepared completely from scratch.
In response, food manufacturers are developing an ever-more sophisticated range of products to tap into this trend. The bakery sector has perhaps led this trend. Growth in new bakery mixes made up a large proportion of new products launched in the bakery category in 2010 driven both by heightened consumer interest in baking and an economic motivation to create something cheaper.
But NPD offerings appealing to the home-chef have not been restricted to the bakery sector with both consumer brands and retailer Private Label launching clearly targeting the 'home-chef'.
One example is Heinz who have developed a range aimed at helping young parents to prepare food for their babies: their ‘Cook at Home' range consists of ingredients for babies and toddlers without flavourings, preservatives, (added) sugars or salt. Products include gravy, sauces, pasta and stock cubes to use as components in preparing complete meals.
According to Bord Bia's Periscope 6 study, taste remains the primary factor when consumers are dining in-home. Manufacturers globally are focusing on this factor with everything from flavoured 'mists' from France (MB Arômes) to restaurant quality meal kits ensuring that consumers can enjoy fabulous tasting food options in the comfort of their own homes.
A number of retailers have also recently launched products. Sainsbury's have just launched a new range of frozen products entitled 'Ingredients for Cooks' which includes portioned chopped herbs, and vegetables commonly used in everyday dishes. This new range, designed for maximum convenience, is priced from £1 and includes some sweet and savoury pastry products.
Marks & Spencer’s are also active with a brand new range of 'Creative Cooking’ frozen stocks and sauces, individually portioned for maximum convenience. Irish suppliers are getting in on the action too with this latter range being produced by an Irish manufacturer.
With this trend looking set to grow further, there are opportunities for Irish suppliers to develop products targeting the busy 'home-chef'.