Mintel hails Queen’s jubilee with 40-year food survey

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fish and chips Mintel

The Mintel survey celebrates the Queen's jubillee by charting food trends over the past 40 years of her reign
The Mintel survey celebrates the Queen's jubillee by charting food trends over the past 40 years of her reign
The nation’s changing breakfast preferences, the impact of shifting diets, and the great British takeaway are three key food trends to emerge from Mintel’s first survey charting consumers’ changing food choices between 1972 and 2012.  

The survey, conducted to mark the jubilee celebrations and the research group’s own 40th​ birthday, reveals the sad demise of the traditional breakfast fry-up.

Back in 1972, eggs were a breakfast favourite enjoyed by as many as three in 10 (29%) Britons. By this year, just one in 10 (12%) choose to start the day on an egg.

Bacon has suffered too with the one in five (20%) who enjoyed an early morning rasher 40 years ago dropping to less than one in 10 (7%) this year.

Marmalade is another casualty of changing breakfast preferences. While over a third (36%) of Britons enjoyed breakfast marmalade in 1972, the number has fallen to just 7% today.  

More popular

But fruit juice is proving more popular. Nearly a fifth (19%) of consumers enjoy drinking fruit juice, compared with just 11% in 1972.

Alexandra Richmond, senior consumer and lifestyle analyst at Mintel, said: “Healthy choices now guide our dietary habits. Over the past 40 years, Brits have recognised the importance of breakfast.

“A shortage of time, and the increased availability of healthier breakfast options explain the decline in popularity of the great British fry-up, which has not changed much over the past 40 years – but could potentially make a come-back if we can find ways to make it healthier.”

Shifting diets have also affected the nation’s store cupboard essentials. Olive oil, considered an exotic food back in 1972, bought by just 16% of consumers in the previous three months, is now bought regularly by over half (53%) of Britons.

Also, garlic used by only 11% of shoppers and tomato puree bought by 20% in 1972 are now used by as many as 48% and 42% of households respectively.

But it’s bad news for curry power. Once a favourite in dishes such as coronation chicken, used by almost a quarter (24%) of shoppers 40 years ago, today fewer than one in five (19%) households choose curry powder.  

More sophisticated

“Instead we can buy far more sophisticated and authentic herbs and spices and this is a key reason why curry powder is falling out of favour,”​ said Richmond.

“What is classed as exotic has changed vastly over the past 40 years and there is now global influence on the store cupboard staples of British households,”​ she added.

Turning to takeaways, fish and chips remains the favourite – enjoyed by almost four in 10 (39%) Britons in the past month. But that compared with 64% in 1972.

Increasingly vying for takeaway dominance are Chinese meals, enjoyed by 33% of consumers and Indian meals, at 26% of the total.

“As the nation’s favourite, it’s not quite the end of the line for the fish and chip supper. But a greater variety of takeaway options has seen ethnic choices such as the Indian and Chinese takeaway grow in popularity in the past 40 years,”​ said Richmond.

“Since 1972 consumers have been travelling the world more than ever before and enjoying the foods they ate on holiday back here in Britain. As well as growing in confidence to try them, this also reflects the wider range of takeaways cited in the research.”


Key food trends 1972 – 2012


What’s in

  • Breakfast fruit juice
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Tomato puree
  • Fish and chips but challenged by takeaway Chinese and Indian meals


What’s out

  • Breakfast fry-ups
  • Breakfast eggs, bacon and marmalade
  • Curry powder

Source: Mintel


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