CHICAGO — Bread and sweet spreads are among food categories that have improved during the current economic recession, according to Mintel International.

"Over the past year, we’ve seen people trying to save money on food by either dining out less, cutting supermarket bills or both," said Bill Patterson, senior analyst with Mintel. "More people cook at home now, but they still want healthy, convenient, tasty food and drink for their dollar. As consumers spend less and stay in more, certain food markets are benefiting. These recession-proof, or rather recession-fueled, industries are destined to do well throughout the economic downturn, but it will be interesting to track their sales after the nation recovers."

The bread category originally was predicted to grow 2.1% in 2008, but the latest figures show the bread market has grown 7%, and Mintel now is predicting higher growth for bread through 2013.

Sweet spreads are being driven by peanut butter sales for a projected 26% increase from 2008-13, up from an original prediction of 12%. This is all due to the recession-friendly strength of brown-bag lunches and the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Frozen meals are convenient and available in family-sized servings, and Mintel expects a total sales increase of 4.5% in 2008, up from an original projection of a 0.3% decline during the year.

Side dishes such as macaroni and cheese are doing well with growth of more than 5% in 2008. This is up from an original growth prediction of 2.3%.

In addition, more coffee is being brewed at home, leading to retail coffee market growth of 6% in 2008, up from Mintel’s original prediction of 2.4%. Consumers are less willing to pay $4 for a cup of coffee at food service, but less expensive coffee drinks from Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s will compete with at-home coffee sales.

Mr. Patterson said recession-proof foods are often simple or comfort foods, may be purchased at a general supermarket for a low price and may be prepared and enjoyed easily.