The taco is the new sandwich, claims Waitrose in a study on what has shaped the food and drink market in the past year.

The rise in fresh, zingy Mexican food is one of the food trends highlighted in this year’s study. Entitled The Era of the Mindful Consumer, it is based on a poll of 2,000 people of varied ages, supported by focus groups asking questions about shopping, cooking and eating habits.

“Our wellbeing and that of our environment have a huge influence on the way we shop today. It’s redefining how we live,” said Waitrose managing director Rob Collins. “As we become increasingly mindful of our own health, the wellbeing of our family and that of the planet, we’re reshaping how we cook and eat.”

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report for bakers:


Sales of sourdough loaves have gone up by a third, said Waitrose, boosted by the growing popularity of brunch.

Some of Britain’s biggest brands have embraced the trend by introducing wrapped sourdough loaves. Hovis launched a white bloomer baked with sourdough and Warburtons incorporated sourdough into its popular Toastie loaf. Meanwhile, food manufacturer Aryzta launched a four-strong line of sourdough loaves and Puratos introduced a 10kg pack for small firms.

Flavour pairings are also explored in the report, with the use of herbs in puddings, for example lemon with thyme, well received by consumers.

Vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian

Inevitably, veganism and meat-free living were among Waitrose’s key trends. One in eight Brits was now vegan or vegetarian, with a further 21% identifying as flexitarian, the report found.

Waitrose noted that one ingredient in particular was on the rise: “This is the year that aquafaba – the water from tins of chickpeas – made its way in to everything from meringues to cocktails as an alternative to egg white,” said the report. Aquafaba is a common alternative to egg whites for airier bakes such as meringues and macarons. It’s an ideal substitute when switching up recipes to make them suitable for vegan diets. For more egg replacements and ways to cater for a vegan diet, British Baker subscribers can read our report on vegan bakery.

Bakers and manufacturers across the UK have launched NPD suitable for those following a vegan diet. Kara recently unveiled a vegan brioche-style bun, while Aryzta added a duo of loaf cakes to its vegan range. For more, see our product round up for World Vegan Day.

The war on plastic

A big focus of the Waitrose Food & Drink Report 2018 was on the war against plastic, with the supermarket vowing to reduce plastic waste and focusing on removing single-use plastic from packaging across its ranges.

“Nearly nine in 10 (88%) people who saw the episode of BBC’s Blue Planet II about the effect of plastics on our oceans have changed their behaviour since,” the report found.

As a result, it said, 60% of people now choose a refillable water bottle and coffee cup more than before. British Baker subscribers can read our feature on reducing plastic to discover more.

Ice cream carriers

“Ice cream is having a moment,” Waitrose says. “The popular dessert is entering a new era of Insta-friendly indulgence. Taking their influences from street food in Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan, trendy new parlours are popping up in the UK and pushing ice cream to the next level of sensory experience.”

Waitrose highlights London parlours Bubblewrap Waffle and Pan-n-Ice, for ice cream innovations - the latter in particular for its ‘taco’ ice cream carrier.

This year macaron ice cream sandwich vendor Yolkin opened its first bricks-and-mortar site after successes as a pop-up shop, while Ben & Jerry’s unveiled a duo of ice cream bagels.

British Baker subscribers can read our in-depth report on ice cream sandwiches to take advantage of their growing popularity.