The research from Mintel found that new product launches featuring economy claims accounted for 9% of total new food and drink launches in 2012 in the UK, compared to 7% of launches featuring premium claims.
In contrast, back in 2008, premium accounted for 9% of total food and drink launches compared to 2% of economy.
Mintel said the surge in economy lines makes the UK the leading country in terms of food and drink new product launches with economy claims globally, accounting for 21% of global food and drink economy introductions in 2012.
The US accounted for 20% of global economy launches in 2012, Japan ranked third with a 15% share of global economy NPD activity, followed by France, Australia, Spain and Italy.
Mintel director of innovation and insight David Jago said: “The UK economy has struggled to see market recovery and consumer disposable income has remained under pressure. This has given buoyancy to the trend for food and drink brands and grocers to push their value credentials to the foreground.
“Investment in NPD across economy lines has reflected this, increasing steadily since 2010, outstripping the number of new product launches featuring premium claims. Much of the activity in the economy segment in 2012 was fuelled by UK supermarkets improving their value-for-money ranges in response to consumer challenges dictated by the ongoing economic turmoil.”
The research also found that promotional activity has become essential to more than half (55%) of British consumers, who only buy certain products or brands when on promotion. And some four in ten (39%) say that promotions allow them to buy foods that they would not be able to afford otherwise.
Benjamin Punchard, senior global packaging analyst at Mintel, said: “We’ve recently seen many retailers improving the quality of the packaging for budget ranges, witness Tesco’s move away from those stark blue stripes, as they recognise that this has been a barrier to purchase for the nouveau poor, ie those middle class consumer who increasingly find themselves on an ever tighter budget.
“With the UK being so well serviced by private label products the actions of retailers can have a far greater impact on the packaging landscape than you might see elsewhere.
“Alongside clear economy statements on packs, which can be off-putting for some, brands have recognised that packaging can give an economical edge through offering a reassurance of value.
“This might be packaging that protects the product better so that the consumer can rest assured that they will be able to use the product before it goes off. Similarly portioned or dosing packs tell the consumer that they will definitely get the stated portions out of a pack – both a value proposition and a helpful measure for those on a budget needing to know exactly how far a product will stretch.”