Recession-Proof Food and Drink Markets Identified

April 7, 2009
Market research firm's review of report forecasts uncovers common theme: people are spending less, staying at home more

Life in a recession isn't bad for quite everyone. While many markets struggle with the sluggish economy, others thrive. Market research leader Mintel has reviewed and re-forecasted its research reports from the past two years, identifying which food and drink markets are actually being improved by recessionary woes.

"Over the past year, we've seen people trying to save money on food by either dining out less, cutting supermarket bills, or both. More people cook at home now, but they still want healthy, convenient, tasty food and drink for their dollar," comments Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel. "As consumers spend less and stay in more, certain food markets are benefitting. These recession-proof, or rather recession-fueled, industries are destined to do well throughout the economic downturn, but it will be interesting to track their sales after the nation recovers."

  • Bread – The core of basic American eating, from breakfast bagels to lunchtime sandwiches to dinner rolls, Mintel sees the bread market faring the recession quite well. Originally predicted to grow 2.1% in 2008, Mintel's latest figures show the bread market having grown 7%. Mintel now predicts higher growth for bread through 2013.
  • Sweet Spreads – America's quintessential lunch—the PB&J—is doing great during recessionary times. A healthy, cheap source of protein, peanut butter will drive sweet spread sales to increase 26% from 2008-2013, up substantially from Mintel's initial prediction of 12%.
  • Frozen Meals – Convenient, available in family-sized servings, filling and often inexpensive, frozen meals will undoubtedly benefit from the recession. Mintel expects a total sales increase of 4.5% in 2008, a jump from its original -0.3% expectation.
  • Side Dishes – More people are cooking at home, but small conveniences like ready-prepared side dishes aren't out of the question for many families. Mintel only expected the side dish market to grow 2.3% in 2008, but in fact, it grew more than 5%, driven by increased sales of basic comfort foods such as mac and cheese.
  • Coffee – The $4 latte is finally going out of fashion. More adults are making their coffee at home, causing the retail coffee market to grow 6% in 2008, a substantial jump from Mintel's original forecast of 2.4%. Mintel expects this market to enjoy continued success in the future, though recent, less expensive coffee drink launches from Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's will compete with at-home coffee sales.

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