At the other end of the spectrum, ready meals and home meal replacements (HMR) was the biggest losing category, slumping by £10.8M.
Significantly, according to IRI director of strategic insight Tim Eales, overall weekly food and drink volume sales during the July period substantially rose compared to average week-on-week volumes.
That indicated, Eales told FoodManufacture.co.uk, that sunny UK weather had prompted shoppers to break the strong grip on their purse strings inspired by the recession and treat themselves.
'Still prepared to push the boat out'
"They are still prepared to push the boat out when the sun comes out, even though the general attitude is to be very careful on spending."
This was reflected in value terms too, he added. "Value growth [for food and drink] since the beginning of this year is around 2-3%.
"In the first of those hot weeks [week ending July 6, compared to the same period last year], value growth was +8%, in the next it was +10.7% and for the week ending July 20 it was +9.1%."
Growth slid notably downwards
In the week to July 27, as the hot weather began to break, sales growth slid notably downwards to +0.7%, he said.
Comparing the four weeks ending July 27, 2013 with the four weeks to July 28, 2012, the three categories achieving the largest value sales growth were beer, up 30% from £190.9M to £248.3M, then ice cream, up 60.6% from £70M to £112.4M, then soft and exotic fruit, up 21.5% from £185.5M to £225.4M.
These were closely followed by carbonates; cider and perry; and water. Sliding down the scale, chilled salads, other fresh meat and wine saw strong growth, as did spirits as the tenth biggest growth category.
Confectionery next biggest hit
Aside from chilled ready meals, confectionery took the next biggest sales hit in the sweltering July heat, dropping by 4.7%, or £9.3M, from £197.2M to £187.9M.
Hot on its heels were frozen ready meals; cooking sauces and minced beef; then soup; canned beans and pasta; and prepacked bacon.
Sweet biscuits and canned and packet veg took the smallest hits to value sales as the sun beat down.
Among both winning and losing categories, other fresh meat achieved the biggest percentage growth, up 69.5% from £27.9M to £47.2M on the same period last year. The steepest percentage decline was seen in soup sales, which dived by 26%, from £22.4M to £16.6M.