Last year, UK consumers cooked their way through 75 million barbecues, more than one per person, according to firelighter and disposable barbecue supplier Swedish Match, making it the second-largest barbecuing nation in Europe behind Germany. This summer the company predicts the UK will take Germany's crown, thanks to growing popularity in barbecuing and the extended season. The UK has become a nation of barbecuers, it says.
Sainsbury believes this summer will see an influx in barbecue occasions. As well as ramping up its food and drink offerings, it is taking advantage of what it believes will be an increase in the use of user-friendly disposable barbecues because they are lightweight and don't require cleaning. It predicts sales will top 300,000, its highest yet, and will be merchandising them better in-store.
This is good news for Swedish Match, which produces a range of products under the Bryant & May brand, including its Barbecue Grillbag, Firestarter Matches and disposable barbecue the Grillbox. The company is looking to capitalise on the growing number of impulse purchases by targeting convenience stores. Its Grillbox is available in a 15-display unit which has a small footprint, making it ideal for even the smallest c-stores.
Kylie Harper, Bryant & May category manager, says 78% of barbecues are unplanned and convenience stores in particular will do well this summer by ensuring their barbecue fixtures are up to scratch.
"Being such an impulse buy makes life hard for retailers, who need to meet customer demand at short notice," says Harper. "High-visibility products, such as the Grillbox, are a constant reminder to consumers that their local store can service their needs when they make a spontaneous decision to barbecue."
Lighters also play an important role, with the major players concentrating on safety with their NPD. KTWO produces the MaxiLite barbecue lighter, which has a safety valve and visible gas level as well as an adjustable flame, and Bic is marketing its hand-held Megalighter which has an extra-long wand for safe lighting.
Swedish Match also realises the importance of barbecues, once the food has been cooked, to keep the party going on into the night and produces an After Barbecue Log. Placed on the glowing embers of a barbecue, the self-lighting logs stay burning for an hour to provide warmth and ambience.