To grow sausage sales, the industry must address consumer demand for innovation, nutrition and trust
Rapidly changing food and beverage preferences mean that whole categories can move from thriving to surviving in short periods of time. Sausages are deeply rooted in British heritage, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Yet, over the past 5 years, UK sausages sales have experienced a period of slow decline.
To craft solutions that could help sausage sales rebound, Kerry's meat team—including research, development and applications; culinary chefs; marketing; sales and business development—did a full review of the sausage category and developed insights on ways manufacturers could better align with consumer concerns and needs. Here’s a short summary of our actionable findings from the new report, which details the three primary ways sausage brands can increase appeal amongst UK consumers.
1. Innovate with flavour and plant-proteins.
Kerry's proprietary research found that 79% of UK consumers would like to see new and interesting flavours in sausages. This mimics a trend seen in other categories, such as ice cream, where bold flavours are gaining appeal among increasingly adventurous and well-travelled consumers who crave more excitement from food.
As we’ve seen in the barbecue market, global ethnic cuisines are also taking the sausage category by storm. On the rise are flavours that mimic those found in Morocco, the Middle East and Mexico, although research suggests consumers find appeal in flavours from all around the world.
Within the more traditional sausage retail landscape, flavour premiumisation is already underway, with innovations such as bacon, garlic and red wine sausage and apple cider sausage on the market. These enhanced offerings convey that retailers are reacting to consumer demand to improve quality and provide more excitement to the category by incorporating ingredients with well-documented appeal.
Finally, there is also a significant growth in plant-based protein sausages. As the trend towards health and wellness continues to grow, consumers are becoming more mindful about maintaining a balanced diet. Our research found that this has left more consumers open to “healthy” sausages such as those made from vegetables, soya beans, wheat protein and pulses. The flexitarian sausage delivers taste and nutrition, appealing to consumers looking for healthy yet flavourful solutions.
2. Enhance your brand perception.
As consumers move towards making more informed purchasing decisions, perceptions of authenticity and safety are increasingly important. Every product needs to tell a story, including sausage. On materials including product packaging, company websites and social media, it’s important to share information about the history of your brand, the origin of your ingredients and more.
Consumer insights show that some of the information most likely to appeal to shoppers includes stories that illustrate a brand’s commitment to health and sustainability. Details that depict your company’s efforts towards making a clean label product, such as through the use of trusted and traceable ingredients, will especially resonate with consumers. Provenance is also a key factor in connecting consumers with their food and increasing their confidence in a brand. Highlighting the unique people and places involved in making your product, such as individual farmers from your supply chain, can help add authenticity and personal connection.
As you introduce new flavours, be sure to highlight the origin of those, too. Armchair travellers will want to know they are tasting the true flavours from a far-flung destination, not just a local interpretation.
3. Confront carcinogen concerns head on.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation released a report claiming that processed meat was a Group 1 carcinogen to humans. The backlash from the report included negative media attention on processed meats, with the sausage and bacon categories taking the brunt of the bad publicity.
However, the overall risk of cancer due to processed meat consumption is much lower than many other substances in Group 1, and nutritionists from around the world believe the report is misleading as the effect is dose-related and relatively small. This information is essential to communicate to consumers.
One opportunity to reassure consumers is through cleaner labelling and the better-for-you nutritional optimisation of sausages. Using high-quality meat, reducing salt and fat and using clean label ingredients—including those used for clean label preservation—can help improve consumer perceptions and remake sausages as a permissible indulgence. Producing vegetarian and flexitarian sausages, which were noted earlier as already in demand among consumers, alleviates the association with carcinogens entirely.
For more insights around key growth opportunities in the sausage market, including current market trends, consumer needs and significant flavour innovations, contact Kerry.