Carbs – they are every dieters nightmare, but it seems we simply can’t resist them, as new research from Mintel highlights Britain’s insatiable appetite for pasta, rice and noodles.  Over the past five years, sales of this energetic trio have increased a recession busting 41% as this year British consumers are set to munch their way through £1.4 billion pounds worth of the stuff. In the last two years alone, sales of these tasty fillers increased by as much as 22%, much of the growth taking place during the last year. What is more, over the next five years (2009 to 2014) the market for pasta, rice and noodles is estimated to grow a further 25%, reaching a saucy £1.8 billion by 2014.
While the market for pasta (including ready meals) will reach £811 million in 2009 – more than rice (£388 million) and noodles (£213 million) combined – the highest growth in the past two years (2007 – 2009) has come from rice, up 32% against increases of 21% for pasta and 12% for noodles.
Vivianne Ihekweazu, Senior Consumer Analyst at Mintel said:
“Rice and pasta prices rocketed in 2008 due to global shortages, while the weakness of sterling has continued to keep retail prices high. Despite the rise in costs, there is no doubt that the recession has boosted the nation’s appetite for these store cupboard staples, and they still provide a relatively affordable meal solution. “
” a greater interest in home cooking and the move towards more eating-in during the recession has helped boost sales. The market has also benefitted from the influence of global cuisines and demand for convenience. Sales growth has come from product innovation such as rice pouches as well as the introduction of microwaveable and ready-to-cook formats in the rice and noodles market. ” adds Vivianne.
Today, almost nine in ten of us (92%) eat pasta. But it is Britain’s unswerving devotion to dry pasta which makes up the bulk of sales, with 77% of Brits eating this type. Its nearest rival fresh pasta attracts 46% of diners. Healthy pasta attributes are not as high on consumers agenda, with 8% saying they eat organic pasta and just 4% gluten or wheat free. Demonstrating its place in our eating habits, just 3% of Brits said they found pasta to be bland and unadventurous.
” interestingly, after a slow-down in growth in 2007, sales of fresh pasta returned to form in 2008. In the past year alone they are expected to have grown by as much as 10% as consumers swap nights out for dinner at home. ” concludes Vivianne.
In Noodles, dry egg noodles have topped the list in the favourite type eaten by Brits, with nearly half (49%) of consumers eating this type. Its nearest rival – instant meals such as Pot Noodle – are eaten by as many as a third (33%) of consumers, ahead of other types such as ready to cook (30%) fresh (26%) and restaurant or takeaway noodles (28%).
In terms of rice, it seems Brits are favouring the long-grain variety, with 59% of consumers saying they eat this type, closely followed by Basmati at 57%. However, it seems speciality rice goes against the grain, with just 8% of Brits saying they eat types such as wild or black rice. Proving no brand loyalty, 44% of Brits claim own label rice is as good as branded rice and 30% say they normally pick the cheapest type. And it seems rice’s status as an exciting meal compliment is secure – just 5% of Brits said rice is boring.

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