How are consumers changing their festive food choices?

Posted: 13 December 2023 | | No comments yet

Research has revealed that a quarter of UK adults will be scaling back their Christmas meal this year due to the current financial pressures.

Christmas dinner

This festive season, 25 percent of Brits will be scaling back their Christmas dinner due to the cost of living according to new research.

Carried out by Researchbods and customer analytics group STRAT7, the survey asked 2,000 UK adults questions about their Christmas traditions, with results finding 12 percent (and up to 19 percent of those aged 25-34) will be offering fewer dishes than usual.

In fact, nine percent stated that they are planning to provide smaller servings, a figure that rises to 22 percent of young adults aged 18-24.

The research also found that 14 percent of households now expect their Christmas guests to contribute to the cost of the celebrations, with five percent starting to do so this year because of the cost-of-living pressures.

Looking at alcohol, results found that 19 percent of adults are planning on drinking less alcohol this Christmas due to the cost of living. This figure rises to a quarter of those aged 18-24 and 35-44 (both 26 percent).

Staying merry?

Among those that are still planning to have a holiday tipple, wine remains the Christmas Day drink of choice with 39 percent of all adults partaking. This is followed by beer (21 percent), champagne and sparkling wine (20 percent) and traditional festive mainstay Bailey’s Irish Cream (16 percent, rising to 20 percent among those aged 45-54 – also 20 percent of women will have some on Christmas vs. only 11 percent of men).

Meanwhile, 20 percent of those aged 18-24 say that cocktails are their preferred Christmas drink – second only to wine among that age group. However, 18 percent of all adults also think their Christmas experience would be better if their family and guests drank less alcohol. In fact, younger people were found to be more inclined to feel this way – 28 percent of 18-24s and 26 percent of 25-34s.

Christmas table staples

But amid demand changes, what is the one dish that proved most popular with Brits at Christmas time? According to the survey, roast potatoes are the UK’s Christmas dish of choice, featuring in 81 percent of the Christmas dinners made, well ahead of other holiday staples like stuffing (69 percent), turkey (67 percent), Brussels sprouts (67 percent), carrots (67 percent) and pigs in blankets (65 percent).

Making their way to just 51 percent of Christmas dinner tables, Yorkshire puddings split results down the middle at 51 percent. Meanwhile more than a third serve broccoli and 38 percent serve peas.

However, not all consumers were found to opt for a traditional roast dinner on Christmas Day, in fact. nearly one in five adults said they incorporate other cuisines, such as Indian or Chinese food, into their Christmas meal with 12 percent serving just one or two dishes, but 6 percent taking an alternative approach for the entire dinner.

“This research reveals that Christmas traditions are shifting and evolving, and food and drink brands are going to have to keep up. Indian and Chinese dishes, vegan options and the like are becoming increasingly commonplace,” commented Frances Revel-Cooper, Head of Custom Insight at STRAT7 Researchbods.

“While around a third of those we surveyed view Christmas dinner as the hardest meal of the year, it’s still one most of us are reluctant to outsource. This means it remains a cornerstone of the year for the grocery sector. That said, this year has also seen the continuing impact of the cost-of-living crisis – which is going to affect Christmas food and drink bills as well.

“In short, changing customer preferences are a major challenge to profitability, the businesses that come out on top will be those that best understand their customers and adapt accordingly,” concluded Revel-Cooper.

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