Waitrose’s Food & Drink Report: The Food & Drink Trends That Defined 2023

By Ellie Smith

7 months ago

Comfort classics and kimchi are in, pink food and veggie crisps are out


Spotify has summed up our most listened to music of the year, but what about the food we’ve been eating? Enter Waitrose’s 10th Food and Drink Report, which looks back on the past twelve months to highlight the biggest food and drink trends of 2023. Using analysis of shopping trends, product sales figures and a survey of 2,000 adults, the retailer has rounded up the crazes that have defined this year, as well as looking back on the eating habits of the past decade – and predicting themes for 2024. Here are the findings.

Waitrose’s Food & Drink Report: The Food & Drink Trends That Defined 2023

Classic Comfort Foods

With food costs soaring and the cost-of-living crisis rife, we’ve been finding solace in comfort foods. ‘This year, food inflation has changed not only how people shop, but also how they cook and eat,’ said James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose. ‘Price-conscious customers have been searching for the best value; switching more to own-label, buying bigger pack sizes and looking to our promotions to cushion their bills.’ The research also shows we’ve been simplifying meal choices and opting for familiar foods, with dishes like chicken kyiv and beer battered fish seeing the most interest within Waitrose’s Dine In Meal Deal. 

Potatoes were in the spotlight in 2023: sales of sides were up 19 percent, with dauphinoise and triple cooked chips the favourites. And during the disappointing weather of this summer, we tried to cheer ourselves up with hearty foods like Yorkshire puds (up 34 percent) and ready made roast potatoes (up 47 percent).

Kimchi

Getty Images

Fermented Foods

Gut health reigned supreme once again. Waitrose reported an increase in sales of fermented foods such as condiments, pickles, glazes and sauces. The most popular flavours? Tang and umami – with an especially big surge in demand for kimchi (up 44 percent) and beetroot kimchi (up 114 percent).

Protein

As a nation, we’ve become more aware of the importance of protein in our diet. Being ‘high in protein’ was rated the most important health quality in a food product by under 35s, beating factors like being low in fat and salt. Sales for high-protein drinks and yoghurts have increased by 39 percent, and cottage cheese has had a revival, sparked by fitness influencers raving about its health benefits on TikTok. 

Bring Your Own Cocktails

Instead of bringing a bottle of vino to your next dinner party, make like the cool kids and turn up with a canned cocktail or two. Waitrose’s survey found 40 percent of people have ‘BYOC-ed’ for the first time in the past six months, with sales of rum and tequila-based cocktails up 84 percent this year. The hero can? MOTH’s Margarita.

Two pizzas and a glass of wine

Italian 2:0

Pasta and pizza have been all the rage this year, with 30 percent of those surveyed saying they have eaten Italian food more than any other international cuisine. This is no doubt in part sparked by the flurry of buzzy new Italian restaurant openings, from Big Mamma’s Carlotta and Jacuzzi to the new TOZI in Battersea. 

Chopped & Smashed

Adding an element of theatre is a surefire way to get traction on TikTok – hence the trend for chefs smashing and chopping their dishes. We all know avo-on-toast is so 2016, but this year other foods have been getting the smash treatment, with peas on toast now in vogue (sales of frozen garden peas were up 28 percent at Waitrose this autumn). Other big TikTok trends have included #smashburgers and #datebark (flattened Medjool dates drizzled with chocolate or caramel). 

Seedlip

Low and No Drinks

The sober-curious movement has continued to gain traction this year, a trend reflected in Waitrose’ drinks sales figures. Low-alcohol beer, cider, wines and spirits are up have increased by 23 percent, and it’s likely more people will be aiming to drink mindfully this Christmas: one in seven of those surveyed said they intend to ‘drink less alcohol’.

Trends We’ve Said Goodbye To In 2023

  • Vegetable crisps
  • Pink food
  • Low-fat yoghurt, cheese and milk
Pink smoothie bowl

Pexels

Trends For 2024

  • AI in kitchens
  • Nepalese and Pakistani cuisines
  • Psychobiotics (microbes that benefit mental health)
  • Food made from thin air (apparently it’s already a thing in Singapore)

The Biggest Trends of the Decade

  • 2013: Frankenbaking
  • 2014: Flexitarianism
  • 2015: Clean eating
  • 2016: Mindful drinking
  • 2017: The return of carbs
  • 2018: Rise of meat-free
  • 2019: Vegan comfort food
  • 2020: Lockdown dinners
  • 2021: Entertaining
  • 2022: The Airfryer