Year-round barbecue grilling on the rise

With another Memorial Day weekend winding down, it’s worth noting that more consumers are using their grills year-round, according to recent research from NPD Group.

As part of the group’s annual “Eating Patterns in America” report, the research firm identified that usage of outdoor grills is at an “all-time high” and nearly double what it was 20 years ago. In 1985, when the survey first started, 17 percent of households used a grill at dinner at least once during an average two-week period throughout the year; in 2007, it was 38 percent.

“While summer still accounts for the highest consumption levels of grilled food, grilling has increased the most in the other seasons of the year,” says Harry Balzer, a vp at NPD Group and author of the eating trends report.

Broken down by seasons, grill usage patterns are as follows:

• Grill usage in the spring months of March through May was 37.2 percent in 2007, up from 31.4 percent in 1998.

• The number predictably spikes in the summer, at 49.3 percent in the months of June through August 2007, up from 46.3 percent in 1998.

• Grill usage in the fall months has risen most dramatically, to 39.9 percent in 2007 from 30.3 percent in 1998.

• Use of grills also is up in the winter months of December through February, to 26.5 percent in 2007 from 18.7 percent in 1998.

• Total usage for all four seasons in 2007 was 38.2 percent, up from 31.7 percent in 1998.

The majority of households have an outdoor grill (76 percent), and the grill of choice is one that uses gas -- 75 percent of grill owners have a gas grill. In 2007, NPD estimates grill sales grew by 3.2 percent (unit sales) from the previous year.

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