10 Industry Insights From The Waitrose Food & Drink Report 2015

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The third annual Waitrose Food & Drink Report is in, but what does it reveal about consumer attitudes and choices and how they affect the wellness industry?

Focusing on key food and drink trends within the UK the report, which was compiled using a series of in-depth focus groups and comprehensive consumer research, covers a wide range of subjects including healthy living, online shopping and social media. And judging by this year’s results, Deliciously Ella and medjool dates are in and refined sugar and frozen pizza are out.

Waitrose Managing Director Mark Price said of the report: “As society changes, so does the nature of shopping. It is more informal and flexible than ever before. High streets are seeing significant changes: today you can get a panini in a newsagent, a newspaper in a coffee shop, have a sit-down meal in a supermarket and buy your dinner in a petrol station. It can be overwhelming. It’s our job at Waitrose to reflect these shifting sands.

“Old patterns may be vanishing, our enduring values are not.”

The report offers some invaluable insight into the prominence of wellness in everyday consumer choices, but if you don’t have time to sift through the whole document we’ve compiled the top 10 key trends that wellness brands, particularly in the UK, should be taking note of.

1. Consumers still can’t get enough of the avocado. From avo on toast to superfood smoothies, sales of the antioxidant rich fruit have risen by 24% this year alone (Nielsen). And aside from its physical form avocado now ranks as the most pinned food on Pinterest (in the UK), while users of Instagram will be hard-pressed not to spot one on their daily feed.

2. Almond milk sales at Waitrose have overtaken soya milk for the first time ever as more consumers choose to ditch dairy due to health concerns. Rude Health, a manufacturer of healthy cereal and porridge, launched three dairy-free drinks in June 2013. According to co-founder Nick Barnard, sales of the drinks are doubling every quarter, and the company’s Almond Drink is proving to be the best selling item. “We’ll sell more than one million units this year,” he told the Telegraph. But that doesn’t mean the beverage is without its own problems – earlier this year, we reported on the controversy surrounding what makes almond milk, real almond milk? Is it 5% or 30% almond content? Or somewhere in between? (read more here)

3. 36% of those polled revealed they are cutting down on sugar intake. “It’s almost as if sugar is the new fat,” said Jonathan Moore, Waitrose Executive Chef. “It’s the ingredient that people are really starting to focus on,” a statement which is reflected by the decrease in sales of white granulated sugar. Instead, consumers are experimenting with naturally sweet ingredients, such as date nectar and maple syrup. While others are cutting out sugar altogether, inspired by books like Davina McCall’s bestselling 5 Weeks to Sugar-Free and Jamie Oliver’s big to introduce a sugar tax.

4. Eight out of ten people admitted they don’t like being told what is healthy and what isn’t. Instead, consumers are seeking out information via the internet or peers and setting their own rules. In fact, 60% of people revealed they prefer to set their own ‘health’ boundaries with 80% saying that they don’t usually trust the advice they receive. Is this the beginning of a clean-eating backlash?

5. Rapeseed oil has overtaken olive oil as the fastest-selling oil in the UK. With the lowest saturated fat content of any cooking oil (half the amount of olive oil), proving once again that rather than removing a particular ingredient completely consumers are opting to purchase healthier alternatives.

6. A third of 18 to 24-year-olds have admitted they visit a supermarket three to four times a week compared to a quarter of people over 55. Clare Gough, Waitrose Head of Customer Insight argues that “the traditional go out and do a megashop has been replaced by people’s ability to do what they want, when they want.” Consumers now have better access than ever to local shops and often supplement their supermarket goods with products bought from organic or health food stores.

7. The ‘Deliciously Ella Effect’ is going strong with sales of medjool dates increasing by 16% after the staple ingredient for clean-eating advocates continue to be widely used in healthy recipes. With Ella Woodwards’ deli, Kale & Co, set to open later this year, perhaps it would be wise for businesses to take note of which ingredients make the menu.

8. Gluten-free and dairy-free were among the most popular topics on social media platforms, with sales of said ranges going up by 20%. Alternative ingredients proved a hit too. Cauliflower crust pizza was the third most watched recipe on the Waitrose YouTube channel this year, while courgette sales rose by 10% as ‘courgetti’ became the nation’s answer to starchy carbs.

9. The juicer came up trumps when it came to popular kitchen gadgets, with 18% of 18-24 year olds admitting to buying one in the past year. And in the most shocking statistic yet, Waitrose revealed it now sells more frozen chopped fruit than frozen pizza!

10. Despite kitchens being full of cookbooks 33% of consumers admit to never using them. So what does that mean for the future of the publishing market? Well, with 58% of people saying they Google more recipes now than they did five years ago, maybe it’s time to get digital?

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