More than half of Brits have bought a free-from product in the past three months – 3.3 million more shoppers than a year ago.

Sales of free-from products – including gluten-free and dairy-free – have risen 36% year on year, boosted by an interest in healthy eating, particularly among younger shoppers. The growth was reported in Kantar Worldpanel data, which showed 54% of shoppers had bought a free-from product this year.

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar Worldpanel, which cover the 12 weeks ending 26 March 2017, also showed inflation had pushed up the average price of everyday goods by 2.3%.

“Despite rising prices, we’ve seen shoppers’ minds turn to healthy eating after the excess of the festive period and before the temptation of Easter,” said Kantar Worldpanel retail and consumer insight head Fraser McKevitt.

Inflation is expected to continue to accelerate, he added, which was likely to encourage consumers to seek cheaper alternatives.

Kantar Worldpanel also recorded a drop in promotional activity, with goods sold on promotion accounting for 32.9% of total grocery spend made – down 5.5 percentage points on last year.

“As a result, offers are becoming a less significant option for shoppers looking to save money,” said McKevitt. “Already taking market share from their branded rivals – and up nearly 5% during the past 12 weeks – own-label lines could be among the main beneficiaries of inflationary pressure.” 

The grocery market share figures show supermarket sales increased in value by 1.4% compared to the same time last year, with analysts saying growth had been slowed primarily due to Easter falling outside the latest 12 weeks, while it fell within the comparable period last year.

“Slowing growth rates because of the late Easter meant Morrisons was the only one of the big four to grow sales over the period: up 0.3% during the past 12 weeks,” said McKevitt. “Sales at Tesco were down 0.4% overall, although growth in its own-label Farm Brands remains impressive one year after launch: 64% of Tesco shoppers made a purchase from the line during the past 12 weeks.”

Despite the strong performance of Tesco’s Farm Brands, its market share fell by 0.5 points to 27.6%.  Asda’s sales fell 1.8%, while Sainsbury’s declined 0.7%.

The Co-op enjoyed its 23rd consecutive period of growth, with sales up 0.8% year on year, while Waitrose maintained unbroken growth since March 2009. Both businesses benefited from success in premium own-label, said Kantar.

Lidl and Aldi reached new record high market shares during the past 12 weeks, now accounting collectively for 11.7% of the grocery market. Sales growth of 15.0% made Lidl the fastest-growing retailer, while Aldi’s sales rose 14.3%.