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Manufacturers of pies and pasties in the UK may need to find ways to make the products healthier if sales growth is to be sustained once purse strings loosen, according to MeatProcess.com.

Citing market researcher Mintel, the report said UK’s market for these products was valued at £941 million (NZD$2027 million) in 2009, up almost 4% in value sales from the year earlier. However, in real terms, with the effects of inflation taken into account, value sales have fallen by 1.2 % over the period.

Growth in the category has been largely down to the convenience and price factors it offers consumers. And although growth is forecast to continue through 2012, Mintel warns that manufacturers may have to re-evaluate their products in order to keep hold of some consumers.

“One of the longer-term challenges that the pies and pasty category will face, is whether consumers will stick to the category when the economy improves, and they have more disposable income. Pies and pasties offer consumers a low-cost meal that is convenient but does not tick the healthy eating box,” writes Mintel in Pies and Pasties UK 2010.

The category includes pastry products with a filling, which could be meat or vegetable, for example pork pies, sausage rolls, pasties, slices, beef Wellington, and chicken pies. The products can be sold hot ready to eat, cold ready to eat, chilled ready to cook or frozen ready to cook, or canned.

One of the drivers behind the increased sales in recent years was the tightened economy and rising food prices, which pushed consumers to look for value for money combined with comfort food, said Mintel.

“While the economic downturn is currently putting pressures on finances, with consumers prioritising their financial situation over health, when the economy does recover consumers are likely to shift their priorities refocussing on health,” said Vivianne Ihekweazu, a senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

“For future growth to stay strong, manufacturers will also need to reformulate their pie and pasty ranges, making them healthier, with the use of natural ingredients.”

Although pies and pasties are not products that are consumed frequently, around 84% of UK consumers say they have eaten a pie or pasty in the past 12 months. The most popular products currently rank as beef pies, followed by sausage roll and Cornish pasties.

Between 2009 and 2010, value sales of pies and pasties are set to increase by 2.2%, according to the report.

The market is forecast grow by a further 17% over the next five years to reach £1,123 million by 2017.

“However, the state of the economy will have a significant effect on the future well-being of the market,” said Mintel. — Source: MeatProcess

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