British become convenience 'junkies'

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fast food, Cent, Nutrition, Food industry

The British are not as pushed for time as they would have everyone
believe but convenience in healthcare and eating is seen as an
opportunity to free up time for other lifestyle gains, suggests a
survey of 2000 adults by Mintel.

Convenience in healthcare means opting for over-the-counter medicineto treat minor ailments rather than making an appointment at the doctor, underlining potential benefits for the supplement industry.

Going OTC also offers the additional reassurance of professional advice from the pharmacist or chemist, notes the report, a trend that is receiving considerable support from the UK government.

The country's OTC market has grown by a massive 71 per cent over the past ten years, in line with a decline in those visiting the doctor has as more people consult pharmacists.

This shift is also backed up by the fact that the vast majority (83 per cent) of people say that they have to be very ill before they go to the doctor, behaviour that further encourages supplement sales.

The report also points to the important business of health and fitness with fad diets often in the media and the level of health in Britain currently under scrutiny, with rising obesity rates.

Spending on going to health and fitness clubs has grown by a massive 179 per cent over the past 10 years, faster than any other form of entertainment.

At the same time, the British are spending more and more on convenience foods, a sector of the food industry that has grown by an impressive 70 per cent over the past 10 years - massively more than the staple foods, such as dairy, bread, meat and fruit and vegetables.

Not only has the convenience food sector grown the fastest over theseyears it is also the largest sector, as almost £17 billion was spent onconvenience food in 2003. This is a billion more than in 2002 andamounts to almost a third (32 per cent) of the total spend on food.

This underlines that 'health foods' need to tap into the convenience trend, by offering portable but healthy foods, and in a bid to attract consumers away from the giant fast food industry, the largest sector of the food market.

UK consumers now spend a massive £10 billion on hamburgers, fried chicken, chips and other fast food, with sales of fast food growing by 80 per between 1993 and 2003. This is much higher than the eating out market, which has grown by just 50 per cent.

"This trend shows just how much quick service and cheap prices mean tothe majority of convenience junkies. The fact that you can eat in, take-away or quickly drive thru has also helped. Simply grabbing a bite toeat, taking it home and eating it, often in front of one of thetelevisions as opposed to going out for a meal is becoming more and morepopular,"​ said chief statistician at Mintel, Peter Ayton.

This trend is also shown in the drinks market with the market fordrinking at home growing that much faster than that of drinkingelsewhere.

Related topics: Suppliers, Markets and Trends

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