Eating with our eyes

Eating with our eyes

Opinions are great. They help us see the world from our own perspective and they are great conversation starters. It’s that time of year when forecasts become available – and opinions on what lies ahead, for that matter, are plentiful.

The latest food trends from Waitrose are closely tied to how Britain has become a nation of homebodies, as we have fallen back in love with our homes and rediscovered the joy of dinner parties. According to the annual Waitrose Food & Drink Report, even though we are allowed to socialise once again, the country is embracing staying at home and entertaining. Sales of Champagne are up 40% year-on-year as customers spend more money on little treats as we emerge from the pandemic. Over the year, we also brought our kitchens outdoors – one in five of those surveyed said they’d invested in a new barbecue while one in ten said they’d installed an outdoor bar.

We expect to see sustainability and health taking centre stage for food and drink companies in the coming year, as consumers show greater concern for these issues. Through Waitrose’s eyes, consumers stopped buying sandwiches to go at the beginning of the year as they made homemade feasts while working from home.

In this Insta-age, beautifully styled images are a baseline for success in the food and beverage market – the report into how our eating and drinking habits highlights how social media has influenced our shopping lists. Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have driven sales of everything from feta and tortillas to pesto and potatoes due to viral food trends. Meanwhile the TikTok trend for making pasta chips at home contributed to a 400% rise in sales of air fryers at John Lewis.

I certainly agree with us rediscovering the fun, creativity and sense of togetherness that the lockdowns placed upon us. Food became an outlet for inspiration. It should come as little surprise that the majority of the people surveyed have changed their outlook – and they’re more conscious of their mental and physical health, enjoying life’s simple pleasures, and they’ve embraced the importance of family and friends.

In short, the past 19 months have seen consumers “fall back in love with our homes”. Nothing new there… except: now, there is extensive data to provide an insight into the products that defined the past 12 months. Waitrose polled 2,000 consumers across the UK of all ages on a wide range of topics.

Products that defined the year include:

  • Canned fish – Sales of mackerel and anchovies rose by 17% in August 2021
  • Searches for barbecued watermelon recipes on rose by 65% in August
  • Desserts – Knickerbocker glory recipe searches on are up 171% this year
  • Sales of herbs and spices rose 41% this year with specialty salts proving to be the top performers
  • Sales rose 54% while sales of sushi mats were up 57% and nori sales were up 56%

The drinks that dominated drinks cabinets include:

  • Cream liqueurs have become popular all year round (not just for Christmas)
  • Sales of Champagne are up 40% year-on-year, while sales of magnums and bigger bottles are up 88%
  • Rosé wine continues to dominate our wine shelves and sales of rosé fizz are up 47%

Products, flavours and trends we can expect to see more of in 2022 include potato milk, umami, craft pre-batched bottled cocktails and climatarianism (a diet focused on reducing your carbon footprint).


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