With summer nearly here, Brits will soon be firing up their barbies. So which cuisines will be hot this season? What will people serve as sides? And who will be ‘manning’ the grills? We’ve lifted the lid on Britain’s barbecues to find out all this and much more…

This research was commissioned by The Grocer and carried out by Toluna/Harris independently from Florette.

1. Barbecues are the top occasion for bagged salad consumption

10 Charts_2022_Florette_1

Meat matters at barbecues. In 2023, 98% of Britain’s barbecues featured at least one type of meat, with bangers, burgers and chicken the top choices [Kantar 52 w/e 24 December 2023]. But accompaniments are crucial too. Particularly salads. “Warm weather can lift salad sales by as much as 35%,” says Martin Purdy, commercial & marketing director at Florette UK, for which we’ve quizzed 1,008 shoppers.

“Salads have a peak during the summer months as they’re a natural fit with more relaxed outdoor eating,” he adds. Of the people we spoke to, 54% buy prepared salads. Fifty-six per cent said they bought them to accompany barbecues, making this the top occasion for prepared salads.


2. ‘A barbie’s not a barbie without salad,’ say 45%

10 Charts_2022_Florette_2

Forty-five per cent of the people we polled reckon a good salad completes a barbecue – that means salad is Britain’s most popular non-meat barbecue item, topping even bread rolls (42%), corn on the cob (40%) and coleslaw (39%). Not that people are content with any old limp lettuce leaves or sloppy slaws these days.

“Many coleslaws on the market are all very similar: too heavy on the mayo and rather bland,” says Purdy. “But people want more than that. They’re becoming more adventurous and broadening their culinary horizons.”

Hence the launch of the Florette Gourmet Slaws range in time for the coming barbecue season. Korean Gochujang is a blend of aromatic spices, chilli, carrot, red cabbage and red onion; Indian Spiced combines Indian spices and yoghurt with mixed colourful cabbages and red onion; Chinese Inspired is a tangy mix of soy and ginger with white cabbage, carrot and red onion.

“Our Gourmet Slaws offer an entirely different eating experience with incredible flavours, lightness and crunch, helping consumers add a taste adventure to salads, sandwiches, wraps and of course their barbecues,” Purdy adds.


3. Grilling meat remains a mostly male affair…

10 Charts_2022_Florette_3

British barbecue culture is changing (for more proof, see charts 7 and 8). But when it comes to traditional gender roles, less so. We asked our panel who typically does the grilling at barbecues they host or attend – and the old stereotype of men being the kings of the grill seems to be confirmed. Men do the grilling at nearly two-thirds (62%) of barbecues while women do so at just 25% of occasions.

“All the trends point to consumers becoming more adventurous when it comes to cuisines and flavours during the barbecue season,” says Purdy. “However, at a time when society has and continues to change, some aspects of the barbecue season surprisingly still seem to revert to traditional gender roles.”


4… while women tend to prepare the salads

10 Charts_2022_Florette_4

With men doing their best to look busy around the grill, more often than not it falls to the women to prepare salads. Women prepare the accompaniments to grilled food at two-thirds (66%) of barbecues while men do so at just 24% of occasions.

These gender roles seem to be most ingrained in the Midlands and Wales, where men do the grilling at 66% of barbecue occasions, compared with 61% of occasions in the rest of the UK.

The same applies when it comes to salads. In the Midlands and Wales, women prepare the salads at 68% of barbecues, compared with 66% of occasions in the south of England and 64% in the north of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.


Read more:


5. Convenience is king for bagged salad shoppers

10 Charts_2022_Florette_5

Not that salad preparation is the faff it once was. When we asked our sample about their reasons for buying bagged salads, a clear reason came out on top. More than half (52%) of those who had bought prepared salads in the past three months did so for convenience.

“Busy lifestyles and a growing need to have things instantly or on demand means that consumers are becoming increasingly time-conscious,” says Florette’s Purdy.

People also buy prepared salad items because they see this as a way to reduce food waste (37%) and get greater variety at an affordable price (32%). “Health, taste, freshness and convenience are all key drivers,” adds Purdy.


6. Salads are biggest down south

10 Charts_2022_Florette_6

Our research also reveals a north/south divide when it comes to the importance of salad at barbecues.

More than half (51%) of southerners say a salad completes a barbecue. Just 43% of northerners agree.

People in the north of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland are more likely to say that bread rolls complete the occasion (but only just – bread also scored 43%).

Other significant regional differences relate to preferences for corn on the cob and potato salad.

In the north, 41% of people say that corn on the cob completes a barbecue, compared with 34% of people down south.

And in the south, 32% of people insist on potato salad, compared with 27% up north.


Read more:


7. US-style barbecues are top international choice

10 Charts_2022_Florette_7

People are looking far beyond Britain’s borders for inspiration on what to barbecue. Nearly half (48%) of the people we polled have tried US-style barbecue dishes such as pulled pork or buffalo chicken wings. A third (33%) have tried Mexican dishes at barbecues and 30% have tried Chinese, making these the two next most popular barbecue cuisines.

“There’s a growing trend in food and drink for British fusion – combining consumer demand for familiarity with the desire to try new and adventurous flavours from all over the world,” says Purdy. Therein lies an opportunity. “Versatile fresh salads are the perfect accompaniment to new and emerging flavours from all over the world,” he adds.


8. Most people want to try Mexican barbecue dishes

10 Charts_2022_Florette_8

There will always be those for whom bog-standard bangers and burgers are enough at a barbecue. But they are the minority. Just 6% of the people we polled said they’re not interested in trying new barbecue cuisines. That means 94% are open to trying new things at barbecues.

When we asked our sample to choose three cuisines they’d like to try, Mexican came out on top with 34% of the vote, followed by US (32%), Chinese (27%) and Indian (24%).

Our sample was split on more unusual cuisines. Twenty-three per cent said they’d like to try South American and 22% would like to try Thai, while 20% are interested in Korean, 18% Middle Eastern, 16% Japanese and 11% Vietnamese.


9. Washed and ready to eat is key selling point for salads

10 Charts_2022_Florette_9

Florette says growing adventurousness at barbecues is a key opportunity for prepared salads – hence the launch of its Gourmet Slaws range. But it’s not just what type of veg that’s in the bag that matters to people: 54% expect prepared salads to be washed and ready to eat.

Other factors weigh in, too. “Convenience, taste and health are all important but consumers are increasingly buying into brands that share their values when it comes to sustainability and nature,” adds Purdy. He points to the 45% for whom UK sourcing is important, the 26% who value recyclable packaging and the 21% who want organic items. “We’re as passionate about protecting the environment as we are about growing salad.”


10. People want more interesting salads

10 Charts_2022_Florette_10

With the cost of living crisis still biting, it will come as no surprise that price is the biggest barrier to growth: 58% of people say they’d buy more prepared salad if it was cheaper. “Now more than ever it’s key to offer shoppers value for money and disrupt the category with a little excitement,” says Purdy. He points to Florette’s brand’s summer promotion with Jet2Holidays, which gives shoppers the chance to win holidays worth £3k, as one way the brand is trying to do that.

Not that it’s all about winning on price. “We want to inspire consumers with a range of recipes for all occasions and seasons,” Purdy adds. If brands can combine the two, they might just be on to a winner with barbecuing Brits.