These are some of the insights into research conducted by European bakery expert St Pierre to find out how 16 months of intermittent lockdown has impacted the sector.
St Pierre is part of the international market leader’s portfolio that also include the Baker Street and Paul Hollywood brands. The company provides bakery products to the global retail and wholesale markets as well as the hospitality industry and online to the UK, USA and Europe, sold in more than 35,000 stores worldwide.
Key insight for retail and foodservice
The research – carried out during UK lockdown – signals a positive return to business for many of the nation’s restaurants but has also been developed to help retailers with merchandising solutions.
“We are all aware of how popular meal kits and food delivery services have become over the past few months. In fact, 86% of us enjoyed food together ‘virtually’ in some way over the past year, which goes to show how big a role food plays in our daily lives,” said Paul Baker, founder of St Pierre.
“It’s also key to recognise that 43% of Brits are spending more each week on their food shop now than pre-pandemic. What’s more interesting though, is what they are spending that money on.”
The increase in at-home cooking has driven the adoption of more exploratory flavour profiles, which in turn, has created new opportunities.
St Pierre’s research found that one in 10 UK adults have either signed up to a subscription box in a bid to keep their menu exciting or have taken advantage of savvy restaurateurs pivoting to produce meal kit boxes. Now, major retailers are looking to maximise the opportunity, but in order to compete with other subscription services, are looking for quality products that deliver on high consumer expectations.
“Great food is a joy to be shared but this research might provide some insight for restaurants revising their menus for a return to business,” added Baker.
“It turns out 55% of us would never share a meal on a date, preferring to order only for themselves.”
Fall in love
Meal occasions have also changed dramatically over the past 12 months, driving growth in the breakfast and brunch market. Almost a quarter of Brits believe that a date over breakfast or brunch would help keep the atmosphere casual; one in 10 actually prefer it to any other meal time for a date; and 46% have opted for a breakfast or brunch date.
According to Baker, this is great insight for key occasions.
For retailers, they can revise their cross-merchandising in-store to drive sales. For example, Valentine’s Day next year might be more about breakfast than a romantic evening meal, so why not capitalise on this and inspire a range of meal ideas that cater to changing consumer attitudes?
The same is true for foodservice operators reviewing their menus. If almost half the nation are dating at breakfast or brunch, then there’s a missed opportunity in not elevating menus to cater to these occasions.
“Savvy businesses will look for products that are versatile enough to deliver for breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner.”
The survey from St Pierre also revealed other occasions that could deliver opportunities for retailers, such as taking a proposal to the next level, meeting the in-laws or a home-move calling for different meal experiences.
St Pierre has developed a series of recipes based on these findings to inspire operators to embrace new trends. Increased distribution and healthy sales have increased by 62% year-on-year and today, St Pierre Brioche Burger Buns are now the UK’s number one branded burger bun.
The brand has also launched its ‘Fall in Love with St Pierre’ campaign across PR, social and digital channels, which includes a quiz that guesses how long consumers have been in a relationship.