Consumers across Europe are moving away from restaurants and towards their own homes as the dinner party culture picks up in popularity, according to a new report from market analyst Datamonitor.
Across Europe more consumers are choosing to entertain within their four walls and consequently restaurateurs are increasingly battling with retailers for a share of consumers' money, the report continues.
The dinner party culture has evolved over the last few years - gatherings have become more frequent and less formal. By 2006 there will not only be more parties and gatherings hosted, but more will be spent on each as consumers increasingly use gatherings at home to show off both their living quarters and their culinary skills.
According to Datamonitor manufacturers are benefiting from selling premium convenience products to consumers who 'pass off' gourmet prepared food as their own.
The research by Datamonitor spanned seven European countries and found that the dinner party culture of the last few years has resulted in a home entertaining market currently worth over €100billion to consumer companies.
Over 2 billion gatherings were held in private homes across Europe in 2001 with consumers cooking more adventurous and premium food. Food accounts for the largest absolute share of spend on entertaining, with retail food and take-away food accounting for over 55 per cent of total entertaining spend.
The report found that spending on take-away food for entertaining represents the largest share of the associated market at 20 per cent, showing that nearly one fifth of all take-away meals are consumed in company.
Datamonitor's research reveals that the UK in particular is noted for rapid growth in the home entertaining trend. Currently British consumers are the third on the list for the number of parties, with 313 million gatherings per year, behind Germany (539 million) and Italy (327 million). By 2006, however, the UK will have moved to second position with 333 million gatherings. While the British spend on average €67.79 per party, only France spends more at €78.30 per party.
"It has gone from being a female dominated chore to a hugely popular hobby commanding millions of pounds from both food and the connected products such as cookbooks, videos and premium kitchenware.
It has gone beyond being a hobby for only those with the skill - manufacturers have enabled consumer to 'cook by numbers' by taking the hard work out of gourmet foods and providing pre-prepared foods. This allows even the most unskilled of food lovers the opportunity to entertain and show off while they're doing it,"commented Neil Broome, Datamonitor consumer markets analyst and author of the report.
Over recent years, economic growth and high economic confidence have been important catalysts for the home entertaining market, the report claims. Although short-term economic growth is forecast to slow across Europe, over a five year period it is still expected that continued growth with drive the market.
Datamonitor's consumer research indicates that value for money is a major driver of the entertaining at home phenomenon.