Carb-cutting falling out of fashion, says new report

Carbs are on the menu again as Brits move away from faddy diets, according to a new study of UK food trends.

“From pasta to fresh bread, carbs are back,” says the Waitrose Food & Drink Report 2017-18, which is based on consumer research and Waitrose sales data.

The trend for cutting back – or even cutting out – carbs has been one of the factors blamed for a decline in sales of bread in the UK.

Waitrose discovered that, although two-thirds of Brits follow a diet or health drive, three-quarters are now opting for a more common-sense approach rather than a strict regimen.

The retailer said cutting out food groups or following a diet plan had fallen out of favour, with people now preferring to focus on making healthy choices.

“Faddy diets are definitely going out of fashion – people are more aware of how to eat more healthily and in a way that’s easier for them to maintain,” said Ross Anderson, head chef at Waitrose Cookery School, Salisbury.

As a result, fewer UK consumers us are cutting down on carbs in general, said the retailer, but are opting for more complex versions such as barley, quinoa and bulgur wheat. Waitrose also flagged up the protein trend that had seen dishes “powered up” with beans, seeds and nuts.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Turmeric overtaking cinnamon this year as the top-selling spice in Waitrose
  • Growing interest in brunch as more consumers plan a lazy weekend
  • The boom in peanut butter continuing, with sales up 20% and it appearing in the most popular recipes on waitrose.com
  • Blueberries outselling strawberries at Waitrose, while sales of juniper berries are up 17% this year
  • More than half of consumers don’t decide what they are having for dinner until lunchtime; while one in 10 decide just before they eat.

“Today’s shoppers exercise unprecedented control over when they shop, what they buy and how they consume it,” said Waitrose managing director Rob Collins. “Our research found people have become more flexible in their shopping patterns, more price-savvy and more single-minded than ever before.”

The study also looked at Britain’s favourite pie fillings, with beef topping the list at 56%, followed by chicken at 36% (see infographic below).

Research for the report has been carried out throughout 2017, and includes focus group research, OnePoll consumer research of 2,000 consumers (not only Waitrose shoppers) and Waitrose retail and sales data.

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