Posh crumpets, celery juice, environmentally friendly household products and vegan ready meals were all the rage in 2019 as shoppers looked to simplify their lives, according to the latest annual food and drink report by Waitrose.
As the political situation in the country remained complicated and uncertain, Brits sought to simplify their lives and act more compassionately, the supermarket found from its poll of more than 2,000 consumers.
Waitrose MD Rob Collins said the findings showed a move away from materialism and towards a rise in kindness as the nation decluttered their homes and spent money more mindfully.
“Our findings this year point to a move away from materialism, and towards a rise in compassion and simplicity in British lifestyles,” he added. “It seems that, as the world beyond our front doors becomes increasingly complicated, people are doubling down on the things that really matter.
“Households are decluttering to focus on the values - and people - that mean the most to them.”
The hottest on-trend products in stores during 2019 showed consumers continuing to focus on healthier food and drink, as well as more ethical lifestyles.
Sales of vegan ready meals overtook their vegetarian counterpart for the first time and sales of organic celery increased 30% year on year as celery juice became popular with Instagram influencers.
Noodles, grains, seaweed and tahini were also a hit during the year, with luxury frozen foods, posh crumpets and skewered food (sales of metal skewers rose 9%) also on trend.
Environmentally friendly cleaning products continued to grow, with sales of eco household products up 17%. Within the category, sales of eco laundry increased 40%, eco dishwashing products were up 26% and recycled toilet paper rose 39% on 2018.
In the alcohol aisles, shoppers’ love of pink gin and rosé wine expanded to rosé vermouth and rosé champagne. English orange wine appeared on shelves, while cava made a resurgence.
The craft beer explosion has made drinking from a can more acceptable, with sales of alcohol packaged in cans outstripping bottled in 2019. Ready-to-drink tinned cocktails were also flying off the shelves and English wine in a can was now available, the report said.
“We’re seeing a marked change in attitudes towards drinks,” said Pierpaolo Petrassi, head of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. “Many people have a broader repertoire than ever before, and think carefully about what they’re drinking, looking for an experience and a sense of the occasion, company or season.”
Looking ahead to 2020, the four future trends predicted to make an impact with shoppers were: Middle Eastern food at home, ‘seacuterie’, salt cellar substitutes and animal welfare.
“We’re seeing a more considered approach to meat,” said Tor Harris, head of corporate social responsibility.
“Because some people are eating less of it, when they do eat it, they want to make it count - they want to really enjoy it. We see this demand for meat produced to high standards continuing to become more pronounced in the years to come.”
Other findings in the Waitrose report were:
• Mindful spending is on the up, with 50% now buying fewer than one hot drink out per week, as the UK becomes more conscious of using contactless payments. Almost half of Brits are buying fewer lunches out and 36% said they were considering more carefully in general whether they needed to buy something before spending the money.
• Kindness is on the rise as 17% said they cooked for others more now than five years ago.
• One in eight Brits now does an online grocery shop at least once a week, with 61% doing at least some grocery shopping online. However, online and physical shopping are closer than ever, with a third (and half of under-35s) ‘dual shopping’ - looking up prices, recipes or product information while in a supermarket. Half of visits to Waitrose.com are via a mobile device, up 9% on last year.
• Brits are moving towards a simpler existence and focusing on the fundamentals, and 38% said they had become less materialistic over the past decade. More than 60% said sharing memorable experiences with loved ones was the most important thing, with 47% creating more time for hobbies and 30% growing some of their own food.
• Two-thirds of people have cleared out or decluttered in recent months and a third have focused on organising kitchen cupboards. Drivers for this include a desire to scale back packaging, with 9% now taking their own refillable containers to the supermarket for loose produce or deli items.
• A fifth of Brits are eating more spicy food than five years ago, with 26% of people replacing salt on the table with chilli sauce or flakes.
• With a third of Brits eating less meat than two years ago, more than a quarter said they planned to look for better quality meat or fish when they did buy. Views of the farming pages on Waitrose.com are also up by 37%.
The seventh annual Waitrose Food and Drink report is based on OnePoll consumer research of 2,000 people of all ages - not exclusively Waitrose shoppers. It is also supported by focus group research, alongside insights from Waitrose staff and sales data in shops and on Waitrose.com.