Britain has become a nation of homebodies, as we have fallen back in love with our homes and rediscovered the joy of intimate dinner parties, the annual Waitrose Food & Drink Report has found.
Even though we are allowed to socialise once again, the country is embracing staying at home and entertaining loved ones. 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.
The report into how our eating and drinking habits have evolved over the past 12 months also 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.
Over the year, we focused on what more we can be doing to regenerate our environment. We stopped buying sandwiches to go at the beginning of the year as we lovingly made homemade feasts while Working from Home (WFH). And while many of us restocked our drinks cabinets, the alcoholic cordial Lovage was delisted due to a fall in demand.
The way we shopped has changed too as a quarter of our survey respondents shopped for groceries online for the first time in 2021, while the number of people buying food on a daily basis has doubled in a year as we’ve fallen back in love with browsing the aisles for inspiration. These shopping trends – increased frequency and the continued growth of online – will only accelerate in the future. A third of people we polled have been using on-demand food delivery apps during the pandemic. Over the year we extended our partnership with Deliveroo to 150 locations; our report’s Deliveroo Map reveals the nation’s most popular products for rapid home delivery (they’re not what you might think).
James Bailey, Executive Director at Waitrose, says: “The past 19 months have seen us fall back in love with our homes. We’ve rediscovered the fun, creativity and sense of togetherness that food brings to our households and many have embraced the inspiration that we get from popping to the shops to pick up our groceries. The majority of the people we surveyed told us the pandemic has fundamentally changed their outlook: they’re more conscious of their mental and physical health, they’re enjoying life’s simple pleasures, and they’ve embraced the importance of family and friends.”
We have analysed extensive internal data to provide an insight into the products that defined the past 12 months as well as what we left off our shopping lists. And we 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 Waitrose.com rose by 65% in August
- Nostalgic desserts – Knickerbocker glory recipe searches on waitrose.com are up 171% this year
- Sales of herbs and spices rose 41% this year with specialty salts proving to be the top performers
- Sushi – Sales rose 54% while sales of sushi mats were up 57% and nori sales were up 56%
The drinks that dominated the drinks cabinets include:
- Rosé wine continues to dominate our wine shelves and sales of rosé fizz are up 47%
- 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%
Products that we took off our shopping list include:
- Lovage – alcoholic cordial from Bristol (delisted)
- Sales of ironing water fell by one-fifth
- Tights sales are down 31% compared to 2019
- Sales of sandwiches on the go fell by 45% between January and March compared to 2020
The post-pandemic economy will be a Homebody Economy as the past year has made us fall back in love with our homes – and cooking.
The Return of the Intimate Dinner Party
The lockdowns have made us more appreciative of friends and family, and there’s a new emphasis when it comes to dinner parties: it’s all about quality not quantity.
5:2 Veg Diet
Five days veggie, two days incorporating meat into our diet. Vegetarianism and veganism continue to dominate our menus.
The Great Outdoors
Many of us have turned our gardens, patios or balconies into new entertainment areas. Our survey found that almost 40% of us have fired up our barbecues more than we used to.
Regenerating Our Planet
Three-quarters of our respondents have tried harder not to waste food this year, while 77% are concerned about the amount of plastic in their grocery packaging.
Three-quarters of all 18-24-year-olds we surveyed looked at TikTok and Instagram for food inspiration during lockdown, while one in 12 people across all age groups posted a picture of their food or their ‘tablescaped’ meal setting on social media – or sent a snap to a friend – in the day leading up to our poll.
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). Meanwhile sustainability will continue to take centre stage in people’s lives and homes.