In a year dominated by the cost-of-living crisis and pressure on disposable incomes, Waitrose customers sought solace in familiar foods.


32% of adults said that they regularly turned to classic dishes for family meals

In a survey of 2,000 UK adults, 32% said that they regularly turned to classic dishes such as shepherd’s pie and macaroni cheese to feed their families while making sure they make ends meet, according to Waitrose’s 2023 food report.

The report said sales of potato side dishes were up 19% this year, with triple-cooked chips and potato dauphinoise the most sought-after by customers. Sales of Waitrose Essential pork sausages were up 34% year on year.

The retailer also said demand for fermented foods grew, with sales of condiments, pickles, glazes and sauces up 14%.

Customers under 35 also rated their food being “high in protein” as the most important health quality in a food product – above aiding their mood, sleep or skin, or being low in fat, sugar or salt.

Sales of high-protein drinks and yogurts were up 39% in stores, while sales of cottage cheese were up 14%.

Canned cocktails have also been a hit with customers this year with sales up 40%. Rum and tequila-based cocktail sales were up 84%.

While canned alcoholic beverages were all the rage, the continued rise of “no and low” drinks also came to define 2023. Sales of no- or low-alcohol beer, cider, wines and spirits were up 23% and Waitrose said demand was continuing to grow heading into Christmas.

Waitrose also found several previous trends have fallen out of favour. Sales of vegetable crisps slumped 15%, with customers retreating to the traditional comforts of the humble potato chip.

While crisps were back in vogue, the ready-made jacket potato fell out of fashion, with Waitrose delisting the product as customers stepped away from items they could easily make themselves at home.

Low-fat dairy foods also failed fly, while Barbie-inspired pink food had a brief moment in the sun – sales up 25% in July – before sinking back to normal levels after the movie hype dies down.

In 2024, Waitrose predicts AI will become “commonplace” in the kitchen, while customers will expand their palates into Nepalese and Pakistani cuisine and food will begin being made from thin air.