Prepared meals and ethnic flavours on the rise in Spain

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock
Spaniards are buying more prepared meals and the number of people eating ethnic cuisine has more than doubled in recent years, says a government report on food consumption.

According to the report, compiled by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and published this week, Spaniards’ spending on food in 2017 was €102.5 billion - a 3.6% rise since 2015. Of this, just over 80% went to food and the remaining 20% to drinks.

The figures from the report, which can be downloaded here​ (in Spanish), reveal changes in the nation's diet, with people buying more prepared and packaged meals. This category experienced a 4.8% increase last year.

There was also an explosion in interest in foreign cuisine, with a 105.9% increase in the amount of people eating an ‘ethnic dish’ as a main meal in the home since 2012.

The Spanish government has been keeping figures on household food consumption data since 2001 and, according to the report, the results show the sociodemographic changes in Spanish society.

The population has fallen from around 47 million in 2010 to just over 46.5 million in 2017, and there has been an increase in the number of households, due to the rise in single-person households.

Echoing comments made earlier in the year by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) chief João Breda that the Mediterranean diet no longer exists in Mediterranean countries​,​ the report shows consumption of sunflower oil has risen by over one fifth (21.1%) while sales of olive oil have been on the decline.

The Spanish government said the statistics "confirm the importance​" of certain products in the Spanish diet, such as fruit, vegetables, fresh potatoes and dairy products although the consumption of vegetables has fallen.

Pulses also rose by 4.7% while shellfish, molluscs such as squid and fresh fish all fell.

Traditional retailers still important

Most Spanish households do their grocery shopping in supermarkets, which account for almost half of the market (47.3%), and although e-commerce for food is rising, it still represents just 1.2% of total grocery expenditure and 0.5% of fresh produce.

Traditional retailers, such as green grocers, butchers and fishmongers, still dominate the Spanish food retail scene, and almost one third (32.2%) of fresh products were sold in these channels last year.

In terms of the most widely eaten meals in Spanish households, green salad came out top, present in 10.5% of all eating occasions (a slight dip from 2016’s 11.5%), followed by pizza (5.4%), tomato salad (4.4%), chicken breast (4.3%) and lentils (4.1%).

Fewer people are eating a dessert after their meal - 65.7% last year compared to 70.1% in 2012.

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