• From TikTok Feta pasta to millions of bananas, Sainsbury’s reveals the top food and drink products that flew off the shelves last year.
  • 2021 was the year of making up for missed celebrations, as national events such as the Euros, Pancake Day and Halloween were big moments for our tastebuds.

Sainsbury’s has today announced the top taste trends that hooked the nation throughout 2021 – a year of overdue celebrations, with food and drink being at the heart of those moments. Using data from 17.5* million Nectar customers, the retailer has revealed the products that flew off the shelves, from football final snacks to obligatory October pumpkin fun.

Nectar is the UK’s largest coalition loyalty programme, and today unveils its annual Year in Review for digital Nectar customers, revealing shoppers’ personalised buying habits for the past year.

As 2021 kicked off, Sainsbury’s saw more customers than ever taking on Veganuary, with 16% more shoppers buying meat alternative products compared to 2020. The most popular products included meat alternative sausages and tofu, with hundreds of thousands of customers adding them to their baskets.

In February, TikTok cooking videos became increasingly more popular and Sainsbury’s saw customers jumping on the Feta pasta bandwagon with sales increasing by a whopping 62%.

Customers also got in the kitchen to have a flippin’ good time on Pancake Day, and Nectar customers were on hand to settle the controversial toppings debate. Shoppers buying premixed pancake batter were more likely to pick up a jar of chocolate rather than lemons, with 17% opting for chocolate spread, compared to 14% of shoppers keeping it traditional with lemons.

As spring emerged and restrictions started to lift, celebrations were in order! Guinness sales on St Patrick’s Day were up an enormous 128% compared to 2020. Likewise, more people were egg-cited for Easter last year with one million customers buying chocolate eggs in the week leading up to Easter Sunday, 29% more than in 2020.

The month of May saw a return to on-the-go purchases, with sandwich sales up 160% and salads, sushi, and snacking products up 177%.

June was a popular month for healthy eating as Sainsbury’s saw the return of Nectar’s Great Fruit and Veg Challenge. Nectar customers went bananas for…bananas! Over 7.7 million bunches were consumed over the month, with Londoners being the #1 buyers in 2021. Likewise, those in Northern Ireland were jumping into health kicks last year, with thousands of customers going nuts for healthy snacks.

In fact, all over the UK it seemed customers were trying to eat healthier, as over 6 billion portions of fruit and vegetables were bought by digital Nectar customers in 2021. Carrots were the standout favourite with over 375 million portions bought – that’s five carrots for every person in the United Kingdom!

The summer saw plenty of occasions for celebrations and get-togethers. On 11th July, it unfortunately wasn’t coming home for England, but crisps were certainly coming home in customers’ shopping bags with over three quarters of a million bags sold that day.

Heading into the Autumn, Halloween caused a ghostly stir with nearly 750,000 Brits heading into stores to pick up a pumpkin – 22% more than the previous year. Bonfire night also sparked taste buds with almost half a million hot dogs consumed by Nectar customers.

By winter, Sainsbury’s customers made sure this year was a Christmas to Savour as 2021 saw 3.3 million boxes of mince pies in shopping baskets, and 2.1 million bags of sprouts gobbled. Sainsbury’s meat alternative centrepieces were also a hit with customers as sales were up 37% from 2020, with the Plant Pioneers No Turkey Stuffed Crown being the nation’s favourite.

The festive season also saw a surge in bottles of bubbles, with 1.1 million customers raising some fizz to see out another year like no other.

Looking across the United Kingdom, customers in Wales, alongside those in the North-West and the West Midlands have the sweetest tooth, with these regions being the top cream cake enthusiasts. The South-West is the top buyer of speciality cheeses – what a gouda achievement! The North-East like their news, having the highest sales of national newspapers and the East of England can’t go wrong with a loaf of bread. Meanwhile, customers in Scotland loved their flavoured cans of fizz. If you thought the South-West loved their pasties, pies, and pastries the most you would be wrong, with the South-East taking the crown!

Sainsbury’s annual review of customer taste trends comes as Nectar are playing back personalised shopping statistics to all digital Nectar customers with their Year in Review, alongside the top regional purchases being revealed.

As of today, all digital Nectar customers will be able to access their stats through the Nectar app, revealing whether customers are a #1 top buyer for a product in their favourite store, as well as uncovering their top three most frequently purchased products**.

Other data will be featured, including top category purchases, portions of fruit and veg bought, total number of transactions and number of nectar points collected.

Mark Given, Chief Marketing Officer at Sainsbury’s said: “At Sainsbury’s we’re passionate about making healthy eating affordable, easy, and delicious. I’m delighted to see that customers have been making food choices that are healthier for both them and the planet, whilst also occasionally indulging in well-overdue celebrations in another unprecedented year.

“Last year we introduced our new commitment Helping Everyone Eat Better and this year we’ll continue to encourage customers to take small steps that make a huge difference, one plate at a time. We’re all on a journey and are learning more every day, so I’m excited to see the new trends that sweep the nation in 2022!”

To be a part of Nectar’s next Year in Review, remember to swipe or scan your Nectar card when you shop at Sainsbury’s, download the Nectar app, and discover your personalised shopping story for 2022.

*Based on the current Nectar database as of December 2021
**To be offered a personalised Year in Review you need to have data to show number of shops, basket make up and have 3 top products

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