Amy Price
Amy Price, a Mintel Food & Drink Analyst produces and writes reports, providing insight and analysis on the food and drink market and regularly contributing in the media.

Events surrounding the Royal Wedding in 2011 saw a host of food and drink product launches, with a number of iconic British brands investing in tie-ins and playing on their Royal Warrant credentials.

With the Diamond Jubilee, UEFA European 2012 football championship and the London Olympics making for a string of high-profile events, 2012 is expected to see an even higher level of activity. Four fifths of consumers say that they will ‘probably watch some of the Olympic events at home on my own/with my immediate family’, while more than a third will buy drinks/snacks for entertaining at home during the Olympic games (see Mintel’s London Olympics: What the Games Mean for Business – UK, July 2011 report). Waitrose for example has dubbed 2012 the ‘year of conviviality’, arguing that the events will give Brits ample opportunities to celebrate such occasions with feasts in the home.

The retailer has also suggested that British consumers will take a leaf out of the US consumers’ book and begin to host ‘potluck’ parties, where guests all contribute by bringing a dish each. While such an approach should appeal to cash-strapped consumers, less than one in ten consumers currently say that they share the cost with friends when entertaining at home (see Mintel’s In-Home Meal Occasions – UK, February 2012_ report), meaning that the majority of UK consumers still appear to expect to be catered for, suggesting a role for brands and retailers in providing a helping hand to hosts.

Manufacturers, brands and retailers can tap into this sense of enthusiasm by offering hosts convenience and simplicity, taking the hassle out of entertaining, especially given that two fifths (38%) of consumers find entertaining at home stressful.

Mini gourmet doughnuts are being dubbed the cupcake of 2012, pie-pops (mini pies on a stick) are set to follow the cake-pop trend and gourmet variations on retro snacks such as Scotch eggs (eg with black pudding) are due a revival befitting a year of British celebration. With consumers torn between making a big effort when entertaining (four in ten do so) and choosing the easy option (more than a third have bought ready-made buffet food or cheat items such as ready-to-cook foods), such innovation, marketed around the notion of celebration and sharing should offer consumers a compromise option while helping to get them into the convivial spirit.