Waitrose shoppers have sought solace in classic comfort foods over the past 12 months, as food inflation saw consumers forced to simplify their meal choices, says the supermarket.
The data, highlighted in Waitrose’s 2023 Food and Drink Report, revealed a third (32%) of survey respondents now regularly eat classic dishes such as shepherd’s pie and macaroni cheese.
The supermarket’s shoppers are embracing include potatoes. Sales of potato side dishes jumped 19%, with triple cooked chips and potato dauphinoise the most sought-after.
However, ready-made jacket potatoes with cheese were delisted from Waitrose as shoppers stepped away from buying food they could easily recreate at home.
Frozen food is on the rise with the sales of Essential French Fries rocketing 80% and Essential Crinkle Cut Chips up 34%.
Waitrose executive director James Bailey said: “This year, food inflation has changed not only how people shop, but also how they cook and eat. Price-conscious customers have been searching for the best value; switching more to own-label, buying bigger pack sizes and looking to our promotions to cushion their bills.
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“They’ve been simplifying their meal choices and becoming a little less adventurous, choosing familiar foods and recipes they find comforting. Chicken Kyiv and beer battered fish are the most popular dishes in our Dine In Meal Deal.”
Waitrose also highlighted that ‘BYOC’ – bring your own cocktail – was an emerging trend as shoppers snapped up cocktails in a can.
Rum and tequila-based cocktails saw a combined growth of 84%, with its MOTH Margarita cocktail proving the most popular.
Meanwhile, no-and low alcohol drinks sales surged 23% as many shoppers ditched the booze. One in 20 (5%) of respondents said they had tried their first non-alcoholic drink this year.
This trend looks set to continue as around one in seven (15%) said they intend to ‘drink less alcohol’ this Christmas, with health being the main driver, while 25% will do it ‘to save money’.
Waitrose master of wine and head of trading for beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks, Pierpaolo Petrassi, said: “The rise of no and low, lighter reds, ice in wine, cocktails in cans… this year we’ve been ripping up the alcohol rulebook and discovering a new freedom in choosing what we want to drink and when.”
The report also showed renewed interest in fermented foods – with condiments, pickles and glazes up 14% and Kimchi and Super-Beet kimchi products soaring 44% and 114% respectively – while Italian cuisine and protein enriched goods proved popular in 2023.
Meanwhile the food and drink falling out of favour include vegetable crisps, where sales slumped 15%, ‘pink’ food – sales of red food colouring rose by 25% in July in line with ‘Barbie-mania’ but soon returned to normal – and low fat dairy products.
The report, also predicted that AI would become commonplace in the kitchen in 2024, while Nepalese and Pakastani cuisines are also tipped to be big trends.
This year’s results follows Waitrose’ 2022 Food and Drink report, which identified the air fryer as a key trend last year, as the cost-of-living crisis impact on energy bills once again saw consumers looking for economical alternatives.