The UK is Europe's second largest gourmet food market behind France but in terms of per capita consumption, British fine food consumers are taking the lead, spending over ?00 per year each on fine foods.
"One of the most important trends in grocery over the past ten years has been the emergence of the market for organic, natural and fresh produce. This rapidly growing market stands as proof that today's consumers are prepared to spend a premium on food provided that they can see a clear value in it for them," said Andrew Russell, a market analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report.
According to Datamonitor, 2003 sales of fine dining foods were worth ?.2 billion in the UK and forecast to increase by a steep 31 per cent to ?.5 billion in 2008. France is far and away the biggest market in Europe, followed by the UK, Germany and Italy.
The fastest growing markets are Italy, up 3 per cent, the Netherlands at 32 per cent and the UK.
Datamonitor's research reveals that consumer groups are now taking an interest in fine dining at home, especially now that premium foods, such as shiitake mushrooms, corn-fed free range chicken and rosemary flavoured cold pressed extra virgin olive oil are appearing on supermarket shelves.
'Wealthy seniors?for example with large disposable incomes, free time and a desire to enjoy life are playing a role in the surge in the market, as are the 'urban singles?that lack free time but tend to want to make the most of the free time they have.
"There are many ways for consumers who want the best out of life to spend their money but fine dining at home is an increasingly popular choice. This is due to the influence of restaurants, the eating better and living better connection, and consumers?desire to explore new cuisines,?/i> said Russell.