Waitrose’s 2017 food trends: Raw fish salad is the new sushi

UK supermarket chain Waitrose has released its 2016 food and drink trends report with social media, healthy eating as the new normal, and doing the right thing all prominent.

And as for what we’ll be eating next year, Waitrose is backing Polynesian raw fish salad to become the next sushi while foodie meal kits will bridge the gap between home cooking and ready meals. And the retailer expects us to “eat lighter”, to drink more perfume-inspired cocktails and to get into vegetable yoghurt.

Waitrose MD Rob Collins said: “As a nation we’re expressing ourselves through food as never before. From healthy eating, to the explosion of food photography on social media, to our desire to entertain others through cooking – food is today’s hottest social currency; through it, we tell others about ourselves.”

The importance of social media can be seen from the fact that one in five Britons has posted a picture of their food on social media or sent it to a friend, in the last month. Over 2% have shared a picture in the last day, and 44% make more effort with cooking if they think a photo of it may be posted. This has also driven sales of attractive patterned bowls (up 12%) as they make food look better.


Spiralisers were the top selling gadget in Waitrose this summer, and Instagram-friendly dishes such as charred food, picanha, bao buns and churros all made it into this year’s barometer.

On the healthy eating front, there was a time when healthy eating involved calorie counting, effort and sacrifice. But now nearly three quarters (71%) say it’s just a part of who they are, a part of everyday life.

And 60% say the food they choose to eat is naturally lighter and fresher than five years ago, with examples including swapping potatoes for aubergines in cooking (up 18% this year), or choosing mini treats instead of full-size options, such as mini hot cross buns at Easter (up 165%).

Products including seeds and grains, coconut flour, cactus water and seaweed – and a ‘veggan’ diet (vegan but with eggs) are all top food trends of the year.

Doing the right thing has become second nature with 80% of consumers now actively considering how and where food is sourced, and 30% saying they think more about the environment and society than five years ago.

Nearly half (46%) throw away less food than they used to and a third use their freezers more. Nearly half say shopping more frequently for smaller baskets of food has helped manage waste at home. Meanwhile sales of class 2 (‘wonky’) vegetables, organic beauty products and food storage containers are all on the rise.

The lines between eating out and eating in are blurring with 40% of shoppers seeing eating out as less of a treat than they used to. Cheaper and healthier casual dining when people are out means that they are increasingly choosing to stay in when they want to treat themselves.

When they do stay in they’re making it an event. In the last year, 40% have either been to or hosted a Come Dine With Me-style revolving dinner party, or a dinner party where everyone brings a dish, or a themed evening based around a holiday destination or cooking style.

Demand for the Waitrose Entertaining food ordering service is up 14% this year. And olive wood serving boards and high-end cutlery sets are up by 60% and 40%, as people entertain more at home.

But lunchtime remains less a celebration of food and more a very brief interlude in the working day. As many as 60% of workers tend to eat at their desks and they seem to be dividing their eating habits between buying ready-made fast options and last night’s leftovers. 

Sushi sales have risen by 20% this year while salad sales are up by 10% although sandwiches have only risen 5%. Almost 10% of people eat nuts and seeds as part of their lunch each day and more than a third of us spend less than £1 on lunch, which could be down to that leftovers habit… or maybe some people are just skipping lunch altogether.

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