Roasts a rarity – except at Christmas

Dec 15 2014

Families will gather at the dinner table this Christmas to indulge in a festive feast and enjoy each other’s company. In many households, however, the tradition of sitting down to a roast dinner has become a rare occasion at all other times of the year.

People today are fighting a constant battle against the clock. It is therefore no surprise that consumer eating habits are changing.

Research commissioned by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and conducted by Kantar Worldpanel has shown that family time spent over a meal is a thing of the past.  

Only 10 per cent cater for a family of four today, and the number of people cooking for themselves has increased from 33 per cent in 1980 to 44 per cent in 2014.

Time consuming recipes and traditional roast meat dishes with separate vegetables are also in long term decline. The popularity of roast dinners has dropped 8.4 per cent year on year, largely due to the fact that younger consumers are not investing their time in meals that require a degree of effort.

The average time allocated for meal preparation has decreased too. In 1980, people spent an hour making their meals and this went down to 45 minutes by 1990. Today, the average time taken to prepare a meal has halved and currently stands at 31 minutes.

A long term move away from protein being centreplate is apparent - although 65 per cent of all lamb consumed is served in this way with two vegetables.

“Research has shown that consumers are moving towards dish-based cuisine, such as chillis, curries, and spaghetti bolognese and away from traditional roasts,” said Sue Franklin, HCC’s UK Market Development Executive.

“Convenience is crucial nowadays as people lead fast-moving lifestyles that don’t allow for long periods of time spent in the kitchen. According to the research, five evening meals are usually eaten at home, one is eaten out and one is skipped entirely during an average week.

“Of the five eaten at home, three are “unique” - that is of different content - and two are repeated. They are usually mince based dishes.”

There has also been a 7 per cent increase in microwave usage since 1980. They have become a necessity in our kitchens - 12 per cent of all meals are cooked in a microwave today, and there has been a 13 per cent growth in evening consumption of manufactured meals.

“The need for speed is emphasised by consumers calling almost one in six meal occasions a “light bite”,” said Mrs Franklin.

“Also, the move to simplicity is reducing meals to two simple preparation stages, such as frying mince and adding an ingredient such as cooking rice to accompany a curry. Continental cuisine has influenced our eating habits, as have supermarket ‘three for £10’ deals.”

HCC has developed a range of quick and easy recipes using Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef to encourage consumers to experiment in the kitchen. They also demonstrate the versatility of the different cuts of meat ranging from mince to steaks to legs.

The recipes can be found on the following websites: /

The sample for the research consisted of 10,000 people across the UK.

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