Waitrose Trends 2021

Ten lockdown food and drink trends that are here to stay

A year like no other! In 2020 we’ve been brought together by a collective pause and reset to our daily lives. As the year draws to a close, there’s a strong sense that life has forever changed. Some lockdown foodbev insights from upmarket UK food retailer, Waitrose, in its annual trends report.

“The ‘new normal’ that we all spoke about back in the UK spring isn’t new anymore. It’s just normal.  Call it a pivot, a new dawn, or a fresh start, but one thing is clear: things will never be the same again” says James Bailey, Waitrose executive director.

“Our relationship with food and how we consume it has changed, too. With millions working from home, we have more time for meals, and to consider our meal choices. This has transformed the everyday acts of cooking and eating into a meaningful ritual that divides our work and home life.”

In a recent Food & Drink report, Waitrose looks at the ways the pandemic has shaped and permanently shifted ways of cooking, eating and drinking. 

1. Cooking is the new commute

Of the tens of millions who’ve spent the majority of the year working from home, three-quarters say cooking dinner now provides the break between working time and home life. Where once the journey from the office to the front door would punctuate the day, that role is now being fulfilled by time spent at the chopping board.

2. Online food shopping surge

The pandemic has significantly changed how people shop, with many now relying on online food deliveries. Waitrose research has found that a quarter of Brits bought food online for the first time this year, with the highest uptake being among people under 35. This trend looks likely to stick, with a huge 69% of people who shopped for food online during the pandemic planning to continue doing so.

3. Buying British

Homegrown produce is the preference, bolstered by growing awareness over provenance and farming standards from overseas and a desire to support the nation’s farmers. This trend extends to British seafood where sales have tripled over the last six months.

4. Food for free

From blackberries to sloes, many are foraging again, with UK social media interest up 89% on the year. This is likely due to its family-friendly nature – it’s healthy and fun, it keeps the children occupied, it happens outdoors and it comes with a large dollop of nostalgia.

5. Jam jars at the ready

Preserving, potting and pickling are growing trends, with searches for ‘pickling’ up +222% on Waitrose.com and UK social media mentions of preserving and fermenting are up by 28%.

6. Low and no

Many used lockdown to drop our alcohol intake, and 18% plan to continue trying more low-alcohol or alcohol-free drinks or mocktails to reduce alcohol consumption. Low and no sales at Waitrose are up 22% on the year, with the range broadening to include further non-alcoholic versions of favourite tipples

7. At home Baristas

For a nation of coffee-house lovers, popping out for coffee has been a challenge this year. So people have become baristas at home, with sales of ‘bean to cup’ coffee machines up 64% at John Lewis, and coffee beans by 44% at Waitrose.

8. Slow cooking speeds up

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 hearty 258%. Slow-cooking cuts are great value, foolproof, and can deliver deceptively fancy results. 

9. Asian essentials

Store cupboard essentials from Asia are the fastest growing of Waitrose’s Cooks’ Ingredients range. They’re as tasty as they are versatile, and have been popular over lockdown. Chinese rice vinegar is up 194%, mirin rice wine is up 188% and Japanese rice vinegar is up 180%.

10. Winter rosé

Versatile, foodie-friendly and with the ability to take imbimbers straight to Provence in a sip, pink is officially the drink for all seasons. Autumn 2020 sales were up 57% on the year with this trend set to grow for 2021.

Download the report here