Canned meals and meats: A market full of beans!
In an era of luxury and organic ready meals by all rights the canned meals market should be just about dead and buried. But latest research from MINTEL finds the market for cold canned meats such as Spam and PEK hotting up and innovation in baked beans putting the wind back into the market's sales.
In 2005 the market for baked beans stood at some £265 million, up an impressive 13% since 2001, with the market expected to jump a further 5% this year alone, taking value sales to £278 million. One important factor behind the growth is the fact that baked bean manufacturers have been able to raise prices to allow value to grow ahead of volume. This has not always been the case in the past, particularly during the baked bean price war of 1996 when a can of supermarket beans fell to as low as 4p. What is more, the market's growth looks set to be more than just a flash in the pan, with a 30% rise anticipated in value over the next five years (2006 - 2011) taking sales to some £360 million.
"Baked beans have seen phenomenal growth for such an old British staple. With health issues now high on the agenda in the UK, baked beans have been successfully repositioned as a convenient yet nutritious food, and there is little doubt that they are benefiting from the healthy eating trend. Interest in baked beans was also intensified by the launch in late 2005 of Branston Beans, which fuelled what was dubbed the ‘battle of beans’. Meanwhile, the revelation that Jamie Oliver was featuring beans on toast on the menu of his east London restaurant, ‘Fifteen’, gave the market some 'real food' credibility. This also provided some interesting media coverage which appealed to connoisseurs who would normally overlook them," comments David Bird, senior market analyst at MINTEL.
"The baked beans sector has also profited from some exciting new product developments, which have brought this old favourite into the 21st Century kitchen. The British have often customised baked beans at home by adding spices or sauces but baked beans flavoured with Mexican, Thai and Sweet Chilli spices are now all available straight from the can."
A meaty issue
But it is not all about these tinned haricots, as cold canned meats are now no longer a 'has been' of the British menu. Between 2003 and 2005 alone the value of the cold canned meats market, which includes old British favourites Spam, PEK and corned beef, rose an impressive 7%, having previously seen a 6% decline in sales between 1999 and 2001.
"Corned beef is the most important type of cold canned meat, and accounts for around half of sales. But it is Spam which has proved to be a real shining star in this sector, with MINTEL recording a double-digit sales increase in the last two years alone. Once tarnished with a staid image, Spam has been trendied up to fit more modern needs for example, as an ingredient in tortilla wraps or as a pizza topping. Last year also saw the launch of Spam with Black Pepper, designed to shake off its old-fashioned image. Spam is also one of the few brands that advertise in the market," explains David Bird.
The overall canned meat market grew 8% between 2001 and 2005 to reach £270 million, with a further 1% rise anticipated in 2006.
It's in the can!
This year sales of canned meals and meat are set to reach an estimated £660 million, an impressive 10% increase since 2001. This growth is more than satisfactory in a mature market where as many as nine in ten households now buy these tinned delights. Baked beans make up some 42% of the total canned meals and meat market, with the remainder made up of canned meat, accounting for just over 40% of the market and canned pasta accounting for just under 20%.
"The market's continued success is a testament to one of the more peculiar idiosyncrasies of the British. The unique selling point of modern-day canned meals is their utter reliability as they are cheap, easy to prepare, and provide a convenient fuel with often a mix of protein and carbohydrates, popular amongst the young. Canned meals have the advantage over chilled and fresh foods of having a long shelf life, and there is no need to keep them in the fridge. However, a relatively low level of product development and advertising continues to restrain market performance and compared to canned fish, canned meats have been slow or unable to capitalise on the health trends," explains David Bird.
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