One of the most in-depth evaluations of food consumption carried out within the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland has revealed startling new facts about the eating and shopping habits of people across Northern Ireland.
Commissioned by the Food Strategy Implementation Partnership (FSIP), Bord Bia and Intertrade Ireland the research study has been designed to provide a detailed insight for local food and drinks companies into changing trends in consumer attitudes and behaviour.
Amongst many interesting statistics on consumer behaviour it has found that over 50% of Northern Irish men can’t cook a full meal and that 19% can’t even boil an egg.
Northern Ireland residents are less likely to buy foods that are natural or to limit the amount of ‘fast foods’ that they eat per week but are more likely to eat more than five portions of fruit and vegetable per day, compared to their GB and RoI counterparts.
The report has also revealed that Northern Ireland has the highest frequency of ‘dashboard dining’ with in one in eight people eating meals in their car on a weekly basis, this is highest amongst men aged 15-24.
Invest NI in association with DARD will be disseminating all elements of the research to local food and drinks companies, farm businesses, statutory and consumer agencies, retailers as well as companies working within the hospitality trade.
Commenting on the research Dan Flinter, Chairman of FSIP said:
“This important research into consumer attitudes towards food in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Great Britain will help inform Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector on current different consumer trends for each market.
“By applying the knowledge revealed in this study, local producers and processors will be able to develop a successful strategy to reach their target markets and increase their profitability,” he continued.
Representing the views of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Maynard Mawhinney, Director of Food at Invest NI added:
“This research will be used to help develop Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector. By applying the findings contained within the report local businesses will be better able to compete and succeed in what is a competitive business environment.”
A series of workshops and events targeting producers, processors and sector organisations are planned for early 2006 and will focus on the main commercial implications and applications of the research findings.
Two workshops will be held on the 24th and 30th January at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick and Ramada Hotel, Belfast for further information log on to www.investni.com/registration.
An ‘Outlook Forum’ organised by the Ulster Farmer’s Union and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, supported by DARD and Invest NI, is also planned to take place on the 21st February.