Germans are undoubtedly a barbecue-loving nation, with half of German adults, and more than half of those aged 35-44, claiming to enjoy cooking on the barbecue. While steaks and sausages remain classic barbecue food in Germany, an increasingly adventurous nature drives barbecue enthusiasts to move beyond the basics.

As barbecue aspirations grow more sophisticated, preparing fish, cheese and vegetables on the grill is becoming more commonplace in Germany. Fish and seafood, in particular, have recently come into their own with a prime spot on the barbecue, triggering a wave of barbecue orientated innovations in the processed fish product category.

From 2014 to 2016, the share of fish and seafood products carrying references to barbecuing or grilling on-pack in all processed fish product launches in Germany nearly tripled. Besides bringing more variety to the barbecue menu, fish and seafood products fit well with the growing health and wellness trend, which sees many consumers reducing their meat intake and switching to healthy proteins with lower or healthier fats.

Looking at barbecue-positioned fish and seafood products launched in Germany in the past two years, salmon was the most popular type of fish for grilling innovation, which is not surprising given its moderately firm texture and its versatile flavour that pairs well with many sauces, marinades and sides. Yet, as consumers become more adventurous, other types of fish and seafood are moving centre stage.

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Edeka, Gut und Günstig                                                                                                              Lidl, Grillmeister
Norwegian Salmon Filet BBQ                                                                                                       Salmon Barbeque Filet

The share of shellfish in all fish product launches with BBQ references increased significantly between 2015 and 2016, whereas the share of trout soared over the same time period. A relative of salmon, trout is affordable and easy to prepare, as well as low in saturated fats, but high in essential proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also likely that trout owes its increasing popularity as barbecue fare to its large size and ability to take well to the flavour of smoke.

Besides the desire to experiment with new fish varieties on the grill, the growing consumer awareness of sustainability encourages interest in less popular but more sustainable fish and seafood species. These attitudes will likely further fuel demand for lesser used fish varieties, such as mackerel, anchovies or sardines, as an alternative and more sustainable barbecue fare.

Growing demand for convenience is another driving force of innovation in the processed meat, seafood and poultry segment in Germany. Many German consumers consider ‘easy to prepare’ as an important quality when buying meat, seafood or poultry, which represents new opportunities for innovative BBQ products that incorporate value-added convenience elements.

Although the process of barbecuing is a source of enjoyment itself, consumers are increasingly open to shortcuts that make barbecuing a relaxed cooking experience, as explored by Mintel’s 2017 Food and Drink Trend ‘Time is of the Essence’. Aimed at consumers who are looking for hassle-free grilling, the latest German convenience-positioned fish launches feature aluminium baking trays; added seasonings, marinades and coatings; as well as separate sachets with spice blends offering flexibility to customise flavour.

Chilled formats have also increasingly come to dominate the retail packaged BBQ fish offering in Germany. This shift towards chilled fish has been fuelled by a host of new product launches, which have helped increase the availability and convenience of chilled fish products. In particular, discounters were quick to capitalise on the growing interest for chilled fish, with Aldi, Lidl and Netto Marken-Discount responsible for the majority of all chilled fish products with BBQ references launched in Germany in 2016.

Katya Witham is Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel with a dedicated field of focus on Germany. Katya draws on her comprehensive knowledge of the market to identify and explore the major trends across various FMCG categories, providing the insights needed to successfully navigate the German market.

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