Survey | Sunday, 12 July 2009
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Corned beef? A matter of class

The middle class is less likely to open a tin of corned beef for dinner or even have bread for breakfast, and they prefer supermarkets to grocers – MaltaToday looks into Malta’s consumption patterns. By JAMES DEBONO

They don’t do corned beef and they prefer supermarkets – that’s the middle class for you. And the working class likes it the other way round. They like bread in the morning and prefer grocers.
A MaltaToday survey in food consumption and recreational habits among 300 respondents held between 30 June and 3 July has revealed the class division in taste and preferences across Malta and Gozo. MaltaToday asked respondents the occupation of their family’s breadwinner to determine class and social group.
The findings show that Lidl is the popular retail chain in Malta and Gozo, especially with the lower middle class; that most middle class respondents buy their clothes from Sliema, while working class respondents are more likely to buy clothes from Valletta and Paola; and that those aged 16-34 are more influenced by global consumer patterns and likely to eat at McDonalds and drink Coca-Cola, while older people prefer Kinnie and shun the Big Mac.

BREAKFAST Waking up with cornflakes

Overall the majority of the Maltese start their day with a bowl of cereal. While older and working class respondents are more likely to start their day eating bread, younger or more affluent people prefer cereal packs.
The ubiquitous corn flakes dominate the Maltese breakfast table for 41% of Maltese respondents. Kellogg’s Special K, a lightly toasted breakfast cereal styling itself as a low-fat cereal is the second most favoured cereal in Malta.
But a substantial 13% do not eat any breakfast, limiting themselves to a cup of coffee or tea and a further 3% simply skip their breakfast. Older people are more likely to start their day drinking their tea or coffee and nibbled at a piece of cake or biscuits.
While 6% of professionals and managers eat fruit for breakfast, only 1.5% of working-class respondents do the same. Only 3% eat yoghurt for breakfast. But most respondents still buy the product. Only 18% do not buy any yoghurt at all. The Maltese brand Benna is more popular than any of its foreign competitors. And nearly 80% of Maltese prefer local to foreign milk.

We like to shop cheap

One in every five shop at Lidl, the German price-busting multinational supermarket chain. While Smart Supermarket emerges as the singular most popular supermarket outlet in Malta and Gozo, put together the four Lidl supermarkets already command the largest share of the retail market two years after setting up shop in Malta.
Contrary to the widespread perception that Lidl’s appeal is limited to low-income groups struggling to cope with the cost of living – the C1 occupational bracket – in Malta (clerical, vocational and technical workers) are the most likely to shop at Lidl. Even 27% of managers and professionals (AB) shop at Lidl.
A third of respondents still shun supermarkets and shop exclusively from small grocers, which happen to be the preferred choice of older and poorer respondents – an indication that these groups have a lower disposable income, preferring to buy on a daily basis from the grocer. It could also be an indication that pensioners lack the mobility enjoyed by other occupational groups.
While only 15% of the top occupational bracket shop from grocers, 44% of unskilled workers and unemployed people (DE) shop from these outlets. 40% of pensioners also shop from grocers.

Fast-food nation?

67% of respondents have not been to McDonalds in the past month, and 54% of the younger respondents have frequented the global burger outlet in the same period. Significantly 28% of young people aged 16-34 have eaten at McDonalds more than twice in the past month.
Cheesecake shops are also more popular among the young than the old. While 64% of the entire population claim not to have purchased pastizzi in the past month, only 54% of younger respondents have not bought our home-grown junk food.
The majority of respondents (52%) eat in a restaurant less than once a month. While 85% of professionals and managers eat out more than once a month, only 46.3% of unskilled workers do the same. The self-employed are also hard pressed with 49% claiming that they eat out less than once a month.
Professionals and managers are also more likely to frequent a greater variety of international cuisines and types of restaurants. A quarter of ABs has been to a Chinese restaurant during the past month while one-fifth have been to a buffet in a hotel.
Chinese restaurants emerge as the most popular international cuisine. But overall the most popular type of restaurant is the pizzeria. While only 2.1% have been eating sushi in a Japanese restaurant, 45% have been to a pizzeria in the past month.

The new generation chooses Coke

Water remains the favourite cold non-alcoholic beverage, but soft drinks emerge as the preferred choice of 35% of respondents.
Coca Cola, one of the most potent symbols of global capitalism, emerges as the most popular soft drink. But its dominance is still challenged by the local Kinnie brand which comes in second, only two percentage points behind the global brand.
While 29.5% of those over 55 prefer Kinnie, only 19.2% of those aged 16-34 prefer it. On the other hand while only 11% of those aged over 55 prefer Coca-Cola, 43.9% of those aged 16-34 prefer the American brand.


The survey was conducted between Tuesday 30 June and Friday 3 July. 487 persons were randomly chosen from the telephone directory. 300 accepted to be interviewed. The results were weighed to reflect the sex and age balance of the population. The survey has a margin of error of +/-5.7%.

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