The Most Surprising Trends of 2016
January is around the corner which means people will soon be setting their New Year's resolutions – and if 2016's popular food choices are any indication, we should anticipate healthy eating being higher up the list than usual.
Health is Brits' top priority: popularity of vegan cheese, venison and turmeric soars
TV continues to influence our shopping and eating habits throughout the year
A cold summer saw us feeling festive with our food choices
Sainsbury's has revealed 2016's most surprising food trends, influenced by veganism, venison and viewing habits.
Veganism: Free From food, once a niche market, this year surpassed iconic British staple, tea, as it grew over 18 per cent to become a £770m industry. One of the most popular items was vegan cheese, or as one Sainsbury's customer so fondly called it, Gary. Sainsbury's seven varieties of cheese alternatives exceeded sales expectations by 300 per cent in the first month after its September launch. The line was developed following research indicating that the most longed-for dishes for shoppers with allergens and intolerances included pizza, cheese boards and cheesecake.
Red meat alternatives: The meat of choice for many this year was venison, which saw exponential growth in the UK due to its many 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 at summer BBQs as backyard-dwellers replaced traditional hot dogs and hamburgers with venison sausages and burgers. Sainsbury's reported the items were up 128 per cent and 188 per cent respectively.
DIY spiced lattes: Both turmeric and coffee sales were up in 2016 as Sainsbury's saw a 45 per cent increase for fresh turmeric root and a 40 per cent uplift on home-brewed coffee, with coffee makers at a record high. Why the unlikely combination? Possibly due to the popularity of “turmeric lattes” – coffee blended with almond milk and the superfood spice – which blew up Instagram feeds earlier this year.
Small screen cuisine: It was a busy summer for TV, with the European Championship, Olympics and Great British Bake Off hitting screens and influencing our food choices. Britons were found in 'high spirits' for Rio 2016 as sales of the Brazilian spirit, Cachaca, soared by 125 per cent at Sainsbury's compared to the same week in 2015. But it wasn't just sport that inspired shopping habits: after the first episode of GBBO, where contestants made Jaffa cakes and lemon drizzle cake, Sainsbury's online groceries site saw massive spikes in searches for Jaffa (+136 per cent), orange jelly (+150 per cent) and lemon drizzle cake (+136 per cent).
Christmas in June: Britons were feeling festive six months early 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 per cent compared to 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 was reflected in food trends – from customers renaming one of our cheeses Gary, to thousands of mince pies being eaten in June! This 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 now available in our FreeFrom range. We are looking forward to 2017 in which we will continue to deliver great quality products at great value for our customers.”
 Nielsen December 2016
 Sainsbury's research recently found that the most longed-for dishes for shoppers with allergens and intolerances are: pizza (82%), cheese board (77%), cheesecake (75%) and lasagne (73%).