Mintel revises forecasts to take account of global crisis

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

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Mintel has revised its forecasts from the past two years to more accurately reflect the unprecedented global economic situation and highlight which sectors are growing during the crisis.

The market researcher has never done this in its nearly 37-year history, but it decided to revise more than 160 reports published in 2007 and 2008 because the recession has significantly changed its market expectations, including for the food and beverage sector.

Senior analyst at Mintel Bill Patterson told that he felt the organization had taken a risk but stood by its decision. "We exist on the basis of analyzing markets, giving rationale and advising companies about what they should do on the basis of that," ​he said. "The statements we have made over the past couple of years really had to be reviewed.

“…Forecasting is always a risky business and we work closely with out clients to explain that a forecast is based on information available at the time.”

Patterson added that the idea of losing credibility due to changing its forecasts “was a huge issue of debate.”

He said: “We couldn’t legitimately stand by our figures that we projected when economic times were good. The credibility issue was going to be worse if we did stand by them.”

The new figures retain Mintel’s original market predictions “so readers can see the recession's true impact on their market.”

Improved outlook

However, it is not all doom and gloom: Its new figures show that some parts of the food and beverage industry have experienced unexpected growth due to the economic downturn.

The revised reports share a common theme: “People are spending less, staying at home more,”​ said Mintel. Therefore, the food sectors it expects to do better than expected are those that replace products previously bought outside of the home and now prepared in the home. These include bread and sweet spreads, as people prepare more packaged lunches, frozen foods, side dishes and coffee.

“The $4 latte is finally going out of fashion,” it said. “More adults are making their coffee at home, causing the retail coffee market to grow 6 percent in 2008, a substantial jump from Mintel's original forecast of 2.4 percent.”

But it is frozen foods that have seen the most dramatic change, from a negative growth expectation for 2008 of -0.3 percent, to positive growth of 4.5 percent.

“Convenient, available in family-sized servings, filling and often inexpensive, frozen meals will undoubtedly benefit from the recession,”​ said Mintel.

Good news for peanut butter

In addition, peanut processors and peanut butter manufacturers, which have been hit hard by the recent salmonella scandal, will be relieved to see Mintel’s revised expectations for sweet spread sales to 2013. It now predicts growth of 26 percent, up from an initial prediction of 12 percent, as people look for a healthy, cheap source of protein.

Patterson said: “What we’ve seen time and time again is that with scares like that, they have a huge impact on the given market, but generally speaking the changes tend not to be very big​ [in the long term] because people are creatures of habit.”

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