While recent years have seen food snobs protest about their usage in modern day recipes, new research from Mintel finds hot canned meat is well and truly back on the menu, as Britain rediscovers the joys of this store cupboard staple.

Sales of hot canned meats are steaming. In the last two years alone, sales have grown by a hearty 12%, compared to cold canned meats which grew just 4%. Continued promotional activity has helped hot canned meats to grow its share of the canned meat market at the expense of cold meats by attracting new users. Today, hot canned meats account for as much as 56% of the canned meat market, with as many as one in five Brits now buying canned meatballs and minced beef.

Canned pies have been the star performer in the sector, benefiting from demand for value for money food. Indeed, the positive growth in the pie market as a whole has had a halo effect on the canned pie market, which has benefited from sales growth as consumers look for no fuss comfort food that can be eaten as a whole meal.

Vivianne Ihekweazu, Senior FMCG Analyst at Mintel said:

” canned meats have continued to battle their perception as a lower quality substitute to fresh meat ranges. In 2008 when Delia Smith launched her book “How to Cheat at Cooking”, some consumers were enraged at the suggestion that tinned mince could be substituted for fresh mince in the recipes. However, it showed consumers the versatility of canned meats and the fact that it could serve as a substitute for fresh meat in recipes – something which appears to have resonated. “

Hot on the heels of canned meats is the bean which has been the star performer in the canned meals market. Valued at £251 million in 2004, sales of baked beans have jumped a spectacular 45% in the last five years to reach £365 million in 2009. Extensions of existing products and the introduction of healthier varients, such as low in sugar and salt and the development of the Snap Pot format has also helped maintain interest in the category. Today as many as 81% of all Brits buy baked beans.

“Baked beans have continued to meet consumer demand for convenience as a time-saving meal solution as well as being a cheap, easy-to-prepare comfort food. Baked beans offer consumers much-needed value for money, with product reformulations such as lower salt and sugar varieties ticking the healthy eating box, they are also a store cupboard essential. “Vivianne continues.

But the recession has not favoured all canned foods. Far from jumping through hoops, there has been something of a starchy reception for canned pasta by Britain’s shoppers. Sales of canned pasta fell 9% in the past five years down from £115 million in 2004 to £105 million in 2009.

“The canned pasta market has seen slower value sales growth despite product reformulation, and the introduction of healthier varieties. With parents ever more conscious of the need to feed their children a nutritionally balanced diet, canned pasta meals face an increasingly challenging competitive arena, with continued competition from the expanding children’s ready meal category. “Vivianne concludes.

Meanwhile, the research also revealed that today almost 13 million consumers buy branded canned meals, yet 8 million feel there is no difference in taste between own label and branded products.

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