The upmarket retailer’s latest report is based on wide-ranging new OnePoll research of 2,000 people across Britain, backed by its own sales data.
Thanks to the spread of COVID-19, the number of consumers scratch cooking meals has increased. More than half of respondents (53%) said they now carefully plan their meals, while 74% said home cooking provided a break when working from home.
Since lockdowns began, companies like Associated British Foods (ABF), The Tofoo Company and Oggs have all benefitted from the growth of scratch cooking as more people are forced to stay at home.
Support for British food
Nearly three quarters of people (74%) wanted to see more UK food businesses express support for local British producers. And 61% worried there would be a rise in factory-farmed meat coming into the UK if standards were not protected.
Future food standards have been questioned lately, amid continued uncertainty surrounding the end of the Brexit transition period. The passing of the Agriculture Bill earlier this month helped to alleviate some producer’s’ concerns.
A survey conducted by the Food Ethics Council also found the UK public overwhelmingly supported high animal welfare and environmental standards.
Key consumer trends observed by the Waitrose report included meals inspired by social media platforms such as Tik Tok (the tornado omelette), slow cooked meats, organic foods and winter barbecues. More information can be found in the box below.
Commenting on the report, Waitrose executive director James Bailey said: “Our daily rituals, our attitudes towards supermarkets and the way we shop have been fundamentally reshaped by the pandemic.
“These changes are here to stay. The ‘new normal’ that we all spoke about back in the spring isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal.”
Meanwhile, British consumer spending on beef totalled £551m in the 12 weeks to 1 November 2020, according to figures from research organisation Kantar Worldpanel. The latest figure represents a rise of 12.6% on the same period in 2019.
Key food trends, according to Waitrose
Tornado omelette: This Korean dish was huge on Tik Tok in the US and is now causing a storm in the UK. It’s basically a mound of rice or noodles (or a muffin) draped in a swirly omelette. It may resemble a giant yellow Walnut Whip but it tastes sensational. Sales of its ever-flexible key ingredient – eggs – are up 22% this year.
Slow It down: More home working has super-charged the trend for slow-cooked meat, with searches 46% up on Waitrose.com and sales of oxtail up a 258%.
Winter BBQs: Korean and Thai cuisines have inspired a surge in popularity for Al fresco eating. When social distancing measures come to an end, consumers will be keen to meet with friends and family again, prompting interest in outdoor gatherings around fire pits and pizza ovens that have gone unused this year.
Asian essentials: Store cupboard essentials from Asia were the fastest growing of Waitrose’s Cooks’ Ingredients range. Chinese Rice Vinegar was up 194%, Mirin Rice Wine was up 188% and Japanese Rice Vinegar was up 180%.
Posh coffee at home: UK social media mentions for coffee machines were up 14%, while sales of ‘bean to cup’ coffee machines are up 64% at John Lewis and coffee beans by 44% at Waitrose.