Sainsbury’s has revealed 2016’s most surprising food trends, influenced by veganism, venison and viewing habits.

Sainsbury’s shares the most surprising trends of 2016

Sainsbury’s has revealed 2016’s most surprising food trends, influenced by veganism, venison and viewing habits.

Health was Brits’ top priority, with the popularity of vegan cheese soaring in the year. Sainsbury’s FreeFrom range of seven varieties of cheese alternatives exceeded sales expectations by 300% in the first month after its September launch. The line was developed following research by Sainsbury’s that found that the most longed-for dishes for shoppers with allergens and intolerances are: pizza (82%), cheese board (77%), cheesecake (75%) and lasagne (73%).

The meat of choice for many this year was venison, which saw exponential growth due to its health benefits. Venison is naturally low in fat, high in protein and rich in minerals, making it a good alternative to other red meats.

The trend caught on in the summer as barbecue hosts replaced traditional hot dogs and hamburgers with venison sausages and burgers. Sainsbury’s reported sales up 128% and 188% respectively.

TV continued to influence shopping and eating habits throughout the year, with the Olympics and ‘The Great British Bake Off’ making an impact.

For Rio 2016, sales of the Brazilian spirit Cachaca soared by 125% at Sainsbury’s compared with the same week in 2015.

And after the first episode of ‘The Great British Bake Off’, when contestants made Jaffa cakes and lemon drizzle cake, Sainsbury’s online groceries site saw massive spikes in searches for Jaffa (+136%), orange jelly (+150%) and lemon drizzle cake (+136%).

Finally, Brits were feeling festive six months earlier this year, after a cold start to the summer prompted the sale of 17,130 mince pies in the first week of June. The merriness continued during the month of August, with Brussels sprouts sales up 43% compared with the same month in 2015.

Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s Brand, said: “2016 was a year of unpredictable events, so it’s really no wonder that this is reflected in food trends.

“Last year we continued to invest in the quality and pricing of products most important to our customers like fruit, vegetables and nappies, and introduced many new products to shelves – like the seven kinds of vegan cheese in our FreeFrom range.

“We’re looking forward to 2017, in which we will continue to deliver great quality products at great value for our customers.”

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