Waitrose reveals 2021’s food and drinks trends

It’s been a funny old year and it’s interesting to see how lockdown, holidaying in the UK, working from home and home-schooling have all affected how we eat and drink. Waitrose has undertaken a huge amount of research to find the post-pandemic food and drink trends of 2021. And here’s what they found…

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The Homebody Economy

Some 53 per cent of people surveyed said they enjoyed spending time at home more than they used to. Nearly half of them said that they planning to go out less in the evenings, even with lockdowns hopefully behind us. Part of this can be seen in people rediscovering the joy of cooking. John Lewis saw record sales of cookware over the year – up 23 per cent, with dishes like curries and paella becoming increasingly popular.

The Return of the Dinner Party

More than a quarter of respondents plan to host more dinner parties post-pandemic to make up for lost time. The survey found that lockdowns have made people more appreciative of family and friends but, rather than big blow-outs, gatherings would be more selective. This is reflected in the food and drink served with a third of shoppers saying that they are spending more money on little things, like expensive wine or better ingredients, when they entertain. Champagne has also seen a 40 per cent increase year-on-year as we celebrate being with close ones again.

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Alfresco Dining

It comes as little surprise that alfresco dining has seen a jump in popularity this year, with 37 per cent of respondents firing up a BBQ more than they used to and a whopping 12 per cent investing in a hot tub. Even with the removal of restrictions on entertaining indoors, outdoor hosting seems here to stay, and Waitrose are now offering some of their BBQ lines all year round as a result. And our love of the great outdoors is not confined to the home; just under 40 per cent have been going on more picnics and half of this number say they will continue to do this in the future.

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Our Shopping Habits

A quarter of those surveyed shopped online for the first time in 2021, while the number of people buying food on a daily basis doubled in the last year. Whatever happens with the pandemic, it’s expected that these trends will only grow in the future. The increase in daily shoppers reflects the more convenient ways to shop: via an app, the website or with Waitrose’s partnership with Deliveroo, as well as people’s lockdown behaviour where they punctuated WFH with a trip to the supermarket.

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Social Eating

Social media has influenced how and what we eat this year. Three-quarters of 18-24-year-olds looked at TikTok and Instagram for food inspiration during lockdown. Sales of colourful, Instragram-able crockery at John Lewis rose by a third this year, overtaking the demand for traditional while plates and bowls. Around 31 per cent of respondents said they had increased the frequency with which they posted photos of their food as it was a way of connecting with others when face-to-face contact was difficult.

Food Waste Reduction

The pandemic has made people more aware of the environment and that has impacted how and what they eat. Three-quarters of the people surveyed said that they tried harder not to waste food and 77 per cent are concerned about the amount of plastic in their grocery packaging.

What We’ve Been Drinking

Lockdown has brought out everyone’s experimental side. With more time on their hands, people have become more adventurous with what they’ve been drinking. There’s been a rise in regular cocktail hours and people are splashing out on better quality products. The list of drinking trends includes sundowners and aperitifs, niche wines from around the world, local spirits, cream liqueurs, malt whisky, rosé and Appassimento reds from Italy.