Eighty-five percent of U.S. consumers prefer to cook outdoors on the grill or smoker versus indoors on the stove, according to poll; 62% of grill, smoker owners cook year-round

ARLINGTON, Virginia , May 1, 2012 (press release) – May is National Barbecue Month, the kick off to the peak outdoor cooking season, and consumers are eager to fire up their grills and smokers and get cooking. According to new nationwide poll results released today from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), the great outdoors is the preferred place to cook during the warmer months, with an overwhelming 85% of consumers preferring to cook outdoors on the grill or smoker versus indoors on the stove.

"Outdoor cooking continues to increase in popularity year after year, and it is safe to say cookouts are now a mainstay rather than a trend, especially true as we move into the warmer months," says Leslie Wheeler, HPBA communications director. "Consumers agree that the superior flavor, affordability and fun atmosphere that outdoor cooking provides are top reasons why this summer will be all about the cookout."

As consumers prepare for a summer full of cookouts with delicious smoked and grilled food, it's important to assess their current cooking equipment and accessories. The cookout preparation is just as important as the food! HPBA provides the following tips to ensure consumers are fully equipped to kick off the peak outdoor cooking season:

Choose a Grill or Smoker - With the majority of grill and smoker owners cooking year-round (62%), not to mention the fact that 56% of grill/smoker owners are cooking outdoors one to two times per week during the peak outdoor cooking season, it's important to choose a grill/smoker that best fits your outdoor cooking lifestyle. Sixty-nine percent of households that own a grill or smoker own a gas product, followed by charcoal (47%) and electric (7%)*.

Accessorize - Traditional tools of the barbecue trade such as cleaning brushes, long-handled tongs, spatulas and meat thermometers are musts, but dozens of new accessories make cooking outdoors easier and more fun than ever before. Among all grill/smoker owners, the most popular utensils are long-handled tongs (72%), grill-cleaning brushes (68%), long-handled forks (60%) and long-handled spatulas (54%)*.

Savor the Flavor – Flavorful food is a key component to the cookout. Consumers said they prefer their food tender (57%) and juicy (56%), but also smoky (44%), savory (42%) and spicy (21%). Pending the grill used, the cooking techniques can make all the difference when it comes to the flavor profile. Take a risk this season – try a different pellet flavor, use a different dry rub, or marinade to achieve grilling gold.

Think Location – While the majority of consumers (63%) favor hosting or attending a cookout in someone's backyard, today's equipment is so versatile that consumers can easily adjust their cookout to their surroundings. In fact, 14% preferred the beach and 8% prefer firing up the grill at a park. Easy, practical and durable, consider portable grills and smokers for non-backyard cookouts. These grills/smokers are key to getting the party started no matter the location.

Know your budget – Whatever the budget, consumers can find a grill or smoker that fits their means. Basic backyard grills can sell for as little as $50 while top-of-the-line gourmet grills can sell for $5,000 or more. With cooking outdoors on the rise as a year-round activity, money saving remains top priority for consumers, and is a main reason why they normally cook on the grill or smoker*.

Check the Pantry - Consumers looking for a reason to cook outside this grilling season should look no further than their own pantries. Taking a cue from the carefree spirit of summer, households who cook outdoors are more inclined to not use a recipe and just "wing it" (36%) followed by using a tried and true, classic recipe (34%) or an easy, no-fuss recipe (33%).

For more great grilling tips, resources and recipes, please visit www.hpba.org

Join the conversation at "HPBA Barbecue" HPBA's official Facebook and Twitter communities:
facebook.com/HPBABarbecue and twitter.com/HPBA_Barbecue

About Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), based in Arlington, Va., is the North American industry association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives, service firms and allied associates for all types of hearth, barbecue and patio appliances, fuels and accessories. The association provides professional member services and industry support in education, statistics, government relations, marketing, advertising and consumer education. There are more than 2,600 members in the HPBA.

About the National Barbecue Month Consumer Poll

Survey findings are taken from a survey of 1,000+ people, conducted by the polling company™, inc., from April 12-16, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

*About the State of the Barbecue Industry Report

This research was conducted online via The Stevenson Company in July 2011. The sample size included households assembled to be representative of the latest U.S. Census in terms of geography, age of head of household, market size, annual household income and household size. All respondents are 18+ years old.

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