The lifting of lockdown restrictions last month marked the start of picnic season, Waitrose reported a record week for sales of picnic and food to go items, with sales up 213% compared to the same time last year and continuing to grow as the weather hots up.

While 2020 saw a rise in the trend for carpet picnics, DIY charcuterie boards and many practiced their baking skills, 2021 is set to be the year of the picnic as restrictions ease to allow us  to enjoy dining al fresco with family and friends. Driven by the lifting of lockdown and rise in outdoor eating, we saw sales of fresh antipasti (87%) and seafood antipasti (106%) and dips (82%) soar.

As the demand for picnic food grows, we are launching a new picnic box on our Deli counters in time for National Picnic Week, which runs from 19th to 27th June 2021. The new boxes offer customers an easy picnic solution and include a selection of deli counter customer favourites produced by British suppliers, such as pork pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs.

The specially selected box is another example of efforts to adapt our offer on counters to support suppliers and meet changing customer needs. It can be purchased on a special promotion with the Waitrose British Artisan Cheese Boxes, which includes five of our most popular British cheeses and supports our smallest British artisan cheese suppliers.

The new launch ties in with the demand we’ve seen for shoppers seeking out traditional picnic fare to kick off the season. Sales of savoury pastry, quiche and pâté increased by 56%, 23% and 57% respectively and Waitrose No.1 cooked meats – perfect for sandwiches – rose by 105%. Picnic classics scotch eggs and cocktail sausages also saw sales increase by 104% and 59%.

As well as classic British picnic staples, in the last month, customers also looked for flavours from across the globe, with sales across the World Deli range up by 75% compared to last year. Premium picnics are also emerging as a trend following the 104% rise in sales of premium continental meats – including No.1 Iberico Ham, Truffle Salami and Parma Ham.

In addition to food, we have also seen searches for the term ‘picnic blanket’ up 7,250% on

Michelle Slade, Deli counter buyer at Waitrose comments: “2021 is set to be the year of the picnic and we knew there was an opportunity to introduce more customers to the amazing selection of food we have on our counters. Our recent sales show that customers are already getting into the summer spirit and we have introduced this new box full of picnic staples to meet demand and make it really easy for our customers to pick up great quality food from our counters.

Beth Elliot, Waitrose Brand Manager, adds, “Whether customers prefer a more traditional British picnic of sandwiches, sausage rolls and quiche, or prefer to explore different cuisines and new flavour combinations, we have a fabulous range of food and flavours to satisfy all palates. This month we’ll also be welcoming back our Scrumptious Summer range. With a focus on innovative dishes and featuring nostalgic flavours and classic recipes with a modern twist, the range is perfect to enjoy at home, in the garden or picnics in the park.”

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