As an alternative to dairy, almond milk topped the list (by percentage growth) with sales of £62M, up 32% on the previous year, according to retail figures released by IRI.
Avocados were next with supermarket sales of £187M, up 28% on 2015. Third and fourth respectively were fortified water – up 25% (to £55M), and coconut water, which increased in sales by 20% (to £63M).
It was also a strong year for peanut butter, which is now worth £80M to UK retailers – 20% more than the year before. Juice smoothies, meanwhile, were up by 17.5% to £154M.
Lifestyle gurus, food bloggers and Instagrammers
Led by a “highly influential” group of lifestyle gurus, food bloggers and Instagrammers, 2016 was the year of the so-called clean-eating trend, claimed Martin Wood, head of strategic insight for retail at IRI.
The trend was encouraging people to eat non-processed foods like fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and protein, and drink lots of water, he added.
“Our figures suggest the trend may have influenced what people put in their shopping baskets, with some products showing exceptional growth in a market that has been relatively flat over the last 12 months.
“Usually, we see a big uptick in sales of healthy products like fruit and veg at the start of each year, triggered by New Year resolutions to be healthier, but this was clearly more sustained growth over most of the year – apart from in the lead up to Christmas when shopping is strongly geared towards buying spirits, wine and other seasonal treats.” said Wood.
New product innovation
IRI pointed to new product innovation and improved distribution of products as a significant growth driver for retailers and food and drink manufacturers.
“Retailers are wising-up to changing consumer habits and preferences, and this is making a big difference in the availability of certain products on supermarket shelves, like dairy alternatives – such as coconut, almond and rice – and foods with plant-based proteins,” Wood added.
Despite the domination of healthy and alternative items on the best-seller list, sparkling wine and golden and dark rum also featured in the top 10 of products ranked by growth, while gin was in the top 20.
The Food Manufacture Group is staging a free, one-hour webinar – Sustainable Snacking Trends for 2017 – at 3pm on Thursday June 15.
The online seminar, organised in partnership with the Almond Board of California, will explore key trends in sustainable snacking. Its purpose will be to identify sustainable snacking trends, based on consumers’ evolving preferences, and the growing importance of sustainably-sourced ingredients.
Reserve your free place at this online event here.