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Selling summer

From barbeques to beverages, stock up to satisfy Canadian consumers’ warm weather cravings.
People spend time outdoor and eating street fast food set. Summer time meal. Ice cream and smoothie. Isolated flat vector illustration

With the warm weather season and long weekend celebrations upon us, how are Canadians, tired and tested from a long cold winter of lockdowns and restrictions, getting ready for summer fun?

They are heading outdoors. It's that magical time of year. Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and holiday planning is in full swing.

As consumers prepare with bathing suits and sunscreen in hand, those in the food and beverage industry need to align marketing initiatives, promotional strategies and shelf sets with consumers’ evolving and emerging warm weather needs.

In the spring summer months, Canadians eat outdoors twice as often when compared to cold weather dining habits. During the 2021 warm weather lockdown, this behaviour increased 42% when compared to habits in the pre-pandemic May to Sept 2019 period. Unique needs driving our warm weather consumption choices are led by refreshment, experience, cheer/happiness, indulgence and entertainment.

[Read more: "Forecasting demand: A surge in ice cream sales left some c-store owners scratching their heads this winter"]

Canadians fire it up

Key to summer fun is our home grilling habits. Canadians are twice as likely to fire up the grill when the weather is warm than when it’s cold outside. Though barbequing habits did soften slightly in 2021 when compared to 2019 (-8% vs. 2019), with many gathering restrictions easing we can expect grilling enjoyment to be a mainstay of our 2022 entertaining experiences.

We also eat a wide variety of charred fare, with dinner being the principal occasion for barbeque engagement.

Background with BBQ cooking tools on wood background.

Top BBQ dishes:

Steak (Beef) 10 Hamburger 4 Vegetables 75 Pork Ribs 34 Potatoes 48 Chicken Breast -22 Sausages 35 Hot Dogs -21 Beef Roast 36

In the age of rising ‘lessetarianism’ (less meat consumption), it should not be surprising that vegetables and potatoes are the fastest rising dishes enjoyed on the grill.  However, it is important to note that meat proteins led by steak and burgers still top our list of favourites.

The fired-up experience is also critical because of its connection to ‘special’ events.  One in five spring summer meal occasions prepared on the grill is in celebration of a special occasion.  Capturing your fair share of these moments is critical given that shoppers typically spend more money on celebratory dining.

multiple ice creams cones

For the love of ice cream

Canadians continue their love affair with frosty fare.

More than half (54%) of all frozen confectionery (ice cream and frozen novelties) is consumed between May and September, relegating this ‘sweet treat’ season.

The love of ice cream is certainly not for kids alone. Though consumers under 13 years old remain strongly developed for frozen confectionery consumption, warm weather eat rates rose by 25% among the all-important Gen Z target (18-24 years old).

Further engaging Gen Z and millennial targets is an important future growth opportunity for the category.

[Read more: "Sweets & Snacks Expo spends final year in Chicago"]

More snacks please

Canadian outdoor snacking occasions are not exclusive to ice cream alone. In fact, Canadians are traditionally voracious warm weather noshers, with spring summer snacking in 2021 19% higher than during the cold weather months.

Top snacks consumed in warm weather months are led by fresh fruit, cheese, chocolate, potato chips, cookies and frozen novelties.

[Read more: "People still love snacking: U.S. study"]

Cheers to sunshine

Finally, beverages play a considerable role in meeting thirst, refreshment, hydration, enjoyment and social needs during the warm weather months for Canadians of all ages.

Beyond tap water, the top spring summer beverages include bottled water, coffee, carbonated soft drinks, fruit juice, tea and beer.

However, if we compare drinking rates in 2021 versus 2019 habits, we are drinking more sparkling waters, carbonated soft drinks, cold coffee beverages, alcohol RTD/cider/pre-mixes, smoothies and milkshakes.

And so, as we look ahead to spring/summer 2022, you won’t have to look far to realize that as many of us celebrate the sunshine with unique food and drink experiences, understanding the occasions and triggers that drive our choices is a significant opportunity for convenience retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators alike to connect with Canadian consumers.

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