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Consumption habits heat up as temperatures rise



Consumption habits heat up as temperatures rise

With 30 degree temperatures becoming normal in the UK over the past couple of months, we looked at how much food and drink consumption fluctuates with the heat.

We found that as temperatures rose this summer, consumers opted for breakfasts intended to fuel them through long days in the sun. They also opted to enjoy the weather and eat lunch out of home, doing so 11% more compared with last year. Additionally, 13% more lunches were skipped all together, as the heat suppressed some consumers’ appetites. Brits also traded in oven-cooked meals – our usual go-to - for cold meals and ones cooked on the frying pan, and barbeque.

The flip-side to health 

There are many facets to health, with perspectives on what’s healthy varying from consumer to consumer. That said, during the heatwave, consumers were 13% more likely than in the previous months to choose lighter options, or those which provided a portion of fruit or veg.

The types of categories we chose were not necessarily those with strong health connotations, however. Burgers, for example, have a particularly strong seasonal link, with consumption peaking reliably almost every August. This summer the hot weather brought this effect forward, in with the category peaking at 58 million occasions in June, particularly from chilled and fresh patties. Sausages were another barbeque-friendly winner of the season.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, ice cream reaped the benefits of the hot weather; with consumption up 50% compared to April. It was the only frozen category to see an uplift during the summer, as frozen food tends to suffer when it is hot.

A thirst for hydration

Drinks consumption also changed in a rather significant way. Unsurprisingly, consumers looking for drinks options to help them to cool down rocketed (with 28 million more servings chosen for this reason). Consumers also chose drinks to quench their thirst more (+7%), as well as to stay hydrated (+5%).

So while the hotter days created more urgency to drink as a reaction to feeling thirsty, underlying this, consumers still recognised that staying hydrated is key to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This shows that manufacturers looking to capitalise on the opportunities presented by prolonged periods of hot weather need to first make sure they understand consumers’ changing needs.

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