While the recession may have taken its toll on our food choices it seems there is one small indulgence Brits won’t give up as latest research from Mintel reveals that in answer to the question “who ate all the pies?” it seems… we did. UK sales of pies and pasties are thriving and by 2012 we’ll be wading our way through over a billion pounds worth of the tasty treats.

Indeed, valued at £941 million in 2009, sales are forecast to rise to £962 million by the end of the year. In addition, between 2008 and 2009, sales of pies and pasties increased by around 5% as Brits were faced with rising food prices and sought comfort food items that offered them not only value for money, but a treat they could indulge in.

The research also finds pies are now the nation’s favourite snack in the thriving pies and pasties market – overtaking the classic sausage roll during the recession. In 2008 some 68% of Brits named the Sausage Roll their favourite pie and pasty product, followed by Beef Pie (55%) and the Cornish Pasty (50%). However, it seems the tables have turned as today, as the top three pie and pasty products rank as Beef (55%), Sausage Roll (53%) and Cornish Pasties 45%. Indeed, over eight in ten (84%) of us have eaten a pie or pasty in the past 12 months.

Vivianne Ihekweazu, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said:

” consumers returned to the familiar as the economic downturn put a dent in their disposable income, forcing them to reconsider their spending priorities. Today, more and more Brits are continuing to buy pies and pasties as they rediscover their benefits, and they are proving particularly appealing to those on a limited budget. While pies were often previously seen as being old fashioned, they have benefited from being repositioned as a popular gastro pub meal staple – moving them a step beyond the sausage roll in the eyes of the consumer as a versatile snack or viable main meal. “

Regionally, pies & pasties are a firm favourite with those living in the Midlands, as many as 90% of those residing here having eaten one in the past 12 months. By flavour, beef pies are a favourite among those in the Midlands (60%), while sausage rolls are a big hit with those in the South East and East Anglia (58%). And true to the origins of the pasty, those living in the South West are among its biggest fans as 54% of those in the South West and Wales claim to have eaten one over the past year.

” consumers appear to have quite fixed taste preferences when it comes to choosing a pie or pasty, so many prefer to stick to traditional tried and tested flavours. However, the recent introduction of new flavours using premium ingredients with a focus on provenance and quality has helped modernise product ranges, giving consumers more choice – and reasons to buy – than ever before. “Vivianne continues.

There is nothing humble about future sales, as the market for pies and pastie is set to grow by a further 17% over the next 5 years to reach a mouth watering £1,123 million by 2017. However, the state of the economy will have a significant effect on the future well-being of the market.
“While the economic downturn is currently putting pressures on finances, with consumers prioritising their financial situation over health, when the economy does recover consumers are likely to shift their priorities refocussing on health. For future growth to stay strong, manufacturers will also need to reformulate their pie and pasty ranges, making them healthier, with the use of natural ingredients. “Vivianne concludes.

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