Household cooks seek digital inspiration

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Aspiring cooks are increasingly turning online for recipe inspiration, according to a new survey by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Food websites have overtaken cookery books as the main place to find meal ideas for the first time, favoured by 41 per cent of people.

The popularity of food blogs is also on the rise, particularly with the younger generation, where they are a key source of information for 14 per cent of 18 – 24 year olds.

The AHDB Consumer Tracker, run with YouGov, surveyed 4,000 people nationwide about their food habits and attitudes.

Of those, two-thirds claim to cook from scratch several times a week and two in five wanted to increase their repertoire of recipes.

However, AHDB analysis suggests consumers’ foodie aspirations may outstrip reality, with sales data showing a 4.1 per cent year-on-year growth in the convenience food market and an 11 per cent growth in pre-prepared vegetables.

AHDB senior analyst Steven Evans said: “People have a clear desire to cook meals from scratch and try new things and naturally they are turning to the web for ideas.

“But hectic lifestyles mean that convenience is king and with retailers investing in ranges designed to slash time spent in the kitchen, people’s view of what constitutes home-cooking is changing.

“There is an opportunity here for the industry to tap in to the consumer psyche and position products as meal solutions rather than just ingredients. There is also a lesson for us at AHDB – and others involved in marketing activity – to refine and target our online promotional activity.”

The Consumer Tracker is part of AHDB’s work to support growth in levy paying industries by working with retailers and the foodservice industry to promote agricultural products to the public. Articles and resources can be found on the AHDB website, www.ahdb.org.uk/consumerinsight or sign up for a new quarterly e-newsletter by emailing strategic.insight@ahdb.org.uk.