Despite annual broken promises of a barbecue summer, retailers can still cash in on consumers looking for an alfresco dining experience.

The summer is upon us and after the chill of winter, the British public is keen to don shorts, slather on some sun cream and fire up the barbie.

April has already seen its fair share of sunshine, and the temptation to disrobe and dine alfresco will be further stoked by the Met Office’s 30-day long-range forecast (to the end of May) that predicts above average sunshine throughout most of the country and below average amounts of rainfall.

Ones to watch…

Crunch time Knorr and Hellmann’s are launching a range of salad croutons and sprinkles. The Knorr croutons range has two variants: bagel and rustic crunch; while the Hellmann’s flavours include tangy tomato wholegrain and Mexican style salsa multigrain. 
rrp: croutons £1.40, sprinkles £1.20; tel: 080 0435 562 

Heating up Patak’s is hoping to ensure a hot summer this year with its new marketing promotion for its range of barbecue pastes. Encouraging customers to use the range in more than just curries, Patak’s hopes it will drive summer sales of pastes. The campaign will feature print advertising throughout the summer months. tel: 01942 267 000 

Hot roots AB World Foods is expanding its portfolio of Levi Roots condiments with the launch of X Hot Reggae Reggae Sauce. The release is in response to consumer demand for a hotter offering in the barbecue sauce category. It is hoped that the launch will also entice new consumers to buy. rrp: £1.89 ; tel: 01942 267000 

Rock and roll Molson Coors has unveiled new designs for Coors Light’s packaging. The aim is to build on the brand’s heritage by reinforcing the Rocky Mountain cold refreshment message the mountains on the bottles turn blue as the product is chilled. The design also emphasises that ‘light’ refers to its taste profile not its abv strength. tel: 0845 6000 888 

Be quick Bar-Be-Quick is celebrating 25 years of the disposable barbecue with a commemorative pack. Available in original (25 x 30cm) and party size (32 x 52cm), Bar-Be-Quick hopes the packs will appeal to the 80% of the UK population that it says barbecues up to 10 times a year. rrp: £2.99/£6.99 ; tel: 01282 478 200

However, while promises of long, hot summers aren’t always a sure bet, what is a dead cert is that demand will be high when the sun does shine and retailers need to make sure that they have everything their customers might need for an impromptu barbie.

Londis Weymouth retailer Steve Bassett advises store owners to get in quick with their barbecue displays. “I’ve already started putting out displays of disposable barbecues and charcoal because it’s early on in the season when people want to have them,” he says.

“As soon as the sun comes out, customers start asking about barbecue products so it’s better to have them ready for them rather than wait until June or July and miss out.”

Dean Holborn of Holborn’s in Redhill, Surrey, started promoting barbecue products in his store the moment the clouds cleared. “As soon as the weather broke we put out a small display of products which will we expand upon later on,” he says.

“A lot of people have switched to gas barbecues, but there is a hard-core bunch who still use charcoal. The good thing about charcoal is that it never goes out of date so even if a customer asks for some before we’ve had a chance to display it, we’ll have some of last year’s stock in the store room if needed.”

Given the temperamental British climate, retailers might be accused of being a tad over-optimistic, but there’s no doubt that barbecues offer big potential for extra business. Barbecue-related sales were worth more than £7bn (including alcohol) in 2010 and 120 million barbecues were lit throughout the UK last year (Mintel Barbecue Report 2010).
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