Recession Proof Eating

Turns out, life in a recession isn’t bad for everyone.  Some food products are actually thriving in this sluggish economy, according to Mintel.  The market research firm identified the food and drink markets that are being improved by recessionary woes.  And they all have a few things in common — they fall into the comfort/simple food categories and can be purchased at a general supermarket for a relatively low price.  Then at home, they can be prepared quickly. 

“Over the past year, we’ve seen people trying to save money on food by either dining out less, cutting supermarket bills, or both,” said Bill Patterson, a senior analyst at Mintel.  “More people cook at home now, but they still want healthy, convenient, tasty food and drink for their dollar.”  

Here’s a look at some of the recession-fueled industries that Mintel predicts will do well throughout the economic downturn:

  • Bread.  The core of basic American eating, from breakfast bagels to lunchtime sandwiches to dinner rolls, Mintel sees the bread market faring the recession quite well.pbj  

    photo credit: xixsnaps on Flickr

    photo credit: xixsnaps on Flickr

  • Sweet spreads.  Brown bag lunches are back.  America’s quintessential lunch — the PB&J — is doing great during recessionary times.  A healthy, cheap source of protein, peanut butter will drive sweet spread sales to increase 26% from 2008-2013, up substantially from Mintel’s initial prediction of 12%.
  • Frozen meals. Convenient, available in family-sized servings, filling and often inexpensive, frozen meals will undoubtedly benefit from the recession, Mintel predicts.  The firm expects a total sales increase of 4.5% in 2008.
  • Side dishes.  More people are cooking at home, but small conveniences like ready-prepared side dishes aren’t out of the question for many families.  The side dish market grew more than 5%, driven by increased sales of basic comfort foods such as mac and cheese.
  • Coffee. The $4 latte is finally going out of fashion. More adults are making their coffee at home, causing the retail coffee market to grow 6% in 2008, a substantial jump from Mintel’s original forecast of 2.4%.  Mintel expects this market to enjoy continued success in the future, though recent, less expensive coffee drink launches from Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s will compete with at-home coffee sales.

In a survey of 1,008 adults, 40% said they’re eating less nutritious foods in an effort to save money.  But not sure how they’re interpreting less healthy.  Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad.  Asked which foods they’re eating more of:  pasta (44%), sandwiches (39%), soup (36%), eggs (36%), cold cereal (36%), bread (29%), peanut butter (28%), tuna fish (27%), beans (26%) and hot dogs (22%).

Some research indicates that people are even more motivated to eat nutritious foods during these tough economic times.  Food industry research analyst Christopher Shanahan from Frost and Sullivan said consumers are increasingly focused on ways to avoid becoming ill due to the economic downturn and companies would do well to pay attention.  Focusing on health and wellness and building brand awareness are the most successful strategies for weathering the global economic storm, he said.

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