Churro-styled doughnuts and steamed bao buns have been flagged up as some of the hottest foods of 2016 by Waitrose.

Smaller versions of treats – such as mini hot cross buns – have also been a hit with shoppers, according to the Waitrose Food & Drink Report 2016 published by the retailer this week.

The study highlights key food trends in the UK, based on Waitrose sales data and a poll of 2,000 consumers.

According to the report’s ‘barometer’ of products that were in favour in 2016, coconut flour – a gluten-free ingredient high in fibre and protein – has become a “store cupboard staple”.

Also present on the barometer were Asian streetfood-inspired bao buns, described by Waitrose as “great with pulled pork or caramelised beef strips”, and churros doughnuts. The retailer said a recipe for the Spanish sweet treat by former Great British Bake Off contestant Martha Collison was one of the most popular on the Waitrose social media pages.

The retailer said social media was helping to fuel a trend for Brits expressing themselves through food.

Posting food pictures

One in five consumers have posted a picture of their food on social media or sent it to a friend in the last month, according to the report. And 44% said they made more effort with cooking if they thought a photo of it might be posted.

“As a nation we’re expressing ourselves through food as never before,” said Waitrose managing director Rob Collins.

“From healthy eating, to the explosion of food photography on social media, to our desire to entertain others through cooking, food is today’s hottest social currency; through it, we tell others about ourselves.”

Researchers found that almost three-quarters of Britons see healthy eating as ‘just a part of who we are’, with 60% saying the food they chose to eat was naturally lighter and fresher than five years ago.

Topping such trends is an interest in seeds and grains, said Waitrose, which has reported 82% growth in sales of buckwheat and 62% growth in chia seed sales.

Interest in health has also driven demand for smaller versions of treats – sales of the retailer’s mini hot cross buns were up 165% this Easter.