Sales of comfort foods soared during the UK’s coldest March in 50 years, which included the coldest Easter ever recorded.

Morrisons revealed sales of its pies were up 246% in the week leading up to the Easter weekend.

“The demand for traditional winter meals and ingredients, such as pie and mash and one pot stews, is unseasonably high for this time of year,” said a Morrisons spokesman. “In the run up to Easter, we wouldn’t expect this level of demand for casserole and stew ingredients as we move into spring.”

Waitrose reported its strongest sales growth of the year last week, with total sales up 14.5%, prompted by an increase in demand for warming food and drink such as meat joints, potatoes and hot desserts.

Food distributor RH Amar also recorded a surge in demand for products associated with stews and casseroles - including tinned tomatoes, peppers and pulses.

Last year, consumers were demanding olives, tapenades and marinades amid unseasonably warm weather, it added.