While many Brits will be looking forward to a Christmas dinner with lashings of gravy, new research from Mintel finds sales of gravy are missing the boat, as the nation embraces stock in all its new formats.

Indeed, it seems sales of gravy are struggling – the market for gravy having risen only 8% since 2008, and just 2% in the past year to reach a value of £141 million in 2013. But while the market for gravy has been somewhat dry – sales of stock have been much more impressive, boasting a 51% growth in value over the same five year period and a 10% increase in sales in the last year alone.

In 2013, sales of stock are set to reach a tasty £131 million, a rise of £44 million since 2008. Furthermore, the market for stock is expected to continue to rise, with sales set to reach a mouthwatering £176 million by 2018.

Alex Beckett, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said:

“While gravy is the mainstay of traditional British cuisine and acts as an accompaniment to the Christmas dinner or Sunday roast, these mealtimes are far from everyday meals. The lacklustre performance of many red meat sectors is also likely to have played a role in struggling sales of gravy. In contrast, stocks have benefited from an increase in variety of formats such as jelly and liquid, as well as a robust interest in scratch cooking.”

“But, as much as we take pride from creating a genuinely scratch-cooked meal, Brits don’t mind using pre-made stock as a time-saving alternative to boiling beef bones themselves. Brands have embraced modern formats, with jellies, pouches, pastes and powders grabbing consumers’ interest. The stocks market is also well positioned to benefit from the increase in the number of over-55s, the biggest users of stock.” Alex continues.

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While sales of gravy are struggling, today an average of 65% of all Brits are gravy users. Those living in the North and Scotland (70%) are the greatest fans of the brown stuff, while just 62% of those in the South West and Wales use it. Almost six in ten (57%) Brits use granules and powder – making this the most popular type of gravy used, again usage peaks in the North and Scotland (62%) but is lowest in London (50%). Meanwhile, 13% of Brits use gravy pastes and sauce and almost one in ten (9%) use ready to use and liquid jelly.

Just a quarter (24%) of those living in the North and Scotland agree that there are only a limited variety of dishes which go with gravy, compared to 33% of those living in London. With Christmas in mind, almost a quarter (23%) of users say they’d like to see more limited edition gravies and stocks for example those with seasonal flavours for Christmas.

Mintel’s research also highlights a consumer interest in provenance, with three in ten (31%) users preferring stocks made from British ingredients, increasing to 41% of over-55s. Meanwhile, nearly one in five (17%) users believe labelling should convey more information about the gravy or stock’s ingredients, echoing a broader, post-horsemeat scandal interest in British-sourced meat ingredients.

“Looking to the future, elevating the overall status of gravy with more of a gourmet positioning offers an avenue for manufacturers to encourage greater growth and improve usage levels.” Alex concludes.

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