UK supermarket Waitrose has released its 2023/24 Food and Drink Report, detailing how food inflation has affected consumer shopping during 2023.

A third of the 2000 Food and Drink survey respondents (32%) said that they were regularly eating classic dishes such as shepherd’s pie and macaroni cheese.

Waitrose found that sales of potato side dishes were up 19%, with triple cooked chips and potato dauphinoise the most sought after. The retailer reported that sales of its Essential French Fries product were up 80%, with its Essential Crinkle Cut Chips up 34%.

Sales of the Waitrose Essential Pork Sausages were up 34% on the previous year and during the wet summer months, sales of ready made roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings were up 47% and 39% respectively.

Sales of fermented condiments, pickles, glazes and sauces were up 14%, with kimchi and Super-Beet beetroot kimchi products up 44% and 114% respectively.

Protein proved popular in 2023

The survey found that in respondents under the age of 35, being ‘high in protein’ was voted as the most important health quality in a food product above aiding their mood, sleep or skin, or being low in fat, salt or sugar.

One in eight (12%) of adults surveyed told us they have changed their diet over the past year to eat more protein, with in-store high-protein drinks and yoghurts sales up 39%. Cottage cheese, which contains high amounts of protein, saw its sales increase 14%.

Consumers looking for products that “add value”

Waitrose said that vegetable crisps had seen a “slump in sales”, decreasing by 15% as customers reached for potato crisps instead. Pre-prepared jacket potato sales were down as the supermarket observed consumers being more “mindful of their budgets”.

Lizzie Haywood, Waitrose innovations manager said: “Customers are looking for products that add value. If they don’t know how to make it, or think that we do it better, they’ll buy it. But if it doesn’t fall into either of those, they’ll buy the raw ingredients and do it themselves.”

James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose, said: “This year, food inflation has changed not only how people shop, but also how they cook and eat. 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.

“They’ve been simplifying their meal choices and becoming a little less adventurous, choosing familiar foods and recipes they find comforting. Chicken Kyiv and beer battered fish are the most popular dishes in our Dine In Meal Deal.”