Consumers have little trust in official healthy eating advice and instead prefer to use their own judgment on what is and isn’t healthy.

That’s one of the key findings from the latest Waitrose Food and Drink Report, published today.

The report, the supermarket group’s third annual look at key food and drink trends, found 80% of consumers do not like to be told what is healthy. Instead, they are becoming their own experts, researching diets to suit their lifestyle.

Sixty per cent of people have set themselves health rules this year. Of these, a third are looking to cut down on sugar – by far the most popular way to manage health – a quarter have committed to not drinking alcohol during the week, and 18% are limiting their intake of carbohydrates.

To manage make their diets healthier, the report suggests many shoppers are choosing mini versions of their favourites, whether ice creams or bottles of wine, while others have invested in a Nutribullet or a spiralizer. Overall, the report found 91% of shoppers believe in the mantra “everything in moderation”.

Clare Gough, Waitrose head of customer insight, said: “Today, it’s about pulling information together from different sites and trusted peers. People hear what they’re told but they sense-check it with multiple sources and their peer group.”

Food trends

The Waitrose report also highlights key food and drink products that are proving especially popular with shoppers at the moment. These include avocadoes, sales of which are up 24% year on year by value, and cauliflower, which is increasingly being used as a substitute for rice and even pizza bases.

Waitrose also said sales of its almond milk had overtaken soya milk for the first time.

The report further highlights how choice is starting to overwhelm shoppers. Waitrose MD Mark Price said: “We can watch any TV show or listen to any song that we want to at the touch of a button. We can buy anything online 24/7. We eat more ‘on the go’. And, due to social media, emails and texts, we can connect with friends and family every waking minute. Today, we are constantly ‘on’.”

This had left two-thirds of people saying they feel overwhelmed by the choice available, Price added in his foreword to the report. “People are setting their own definable parameters for living,” he said. “It is their way of navigating this sea of unlimited choice.”

Convenience also remains a key trend, the Waitrose report adds. In London, 40% of Waitrose sales are after 5pm as people buy dinner on the way home. And three in 10 people now visit a supermarket three to four times a week – up from a quarter five years ago.