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‘Clean Eating’ trend results in shakeup of consumer shopping list – IRI

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The desire by British shoppers to be healthier helped drive sales of almond milk, avocados, and new flavours of water in 2016, according to new retail data released by IRI.

IRI’s Product Growth Categories data for 2016 shows a clear trend towards alternative or healthy products, with almond milk topping the list in growth terms (+31.7%).  Meanwhile, avocados came third in the list (+28% growth), followed by fortified water (+24.7%), and coconut water (+20.4%).  2016 also saw strong sales of peanut butter (+20.2%) and juice smoothies (+17.5%).

Martin Wood, Head of Strategic Insight – Retail at IRI, noted: “2016 was the year of so-called ‘clean eating’ led by a group of lifestyle gurus, food bloggers and Instagrammers who are highly influential among consumers, particularly younger shoppers. It encourages people to eat non-processed foods like fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and protein, and drink lots of water.”

Wood added: “IRI’s figures suggest the trend may have influenced what people put in their shopping baskets, with some products showing exceptional growth in an FMCG market that has been relatively flat over the last 12 months. Usually we see a big uptick in sales of healthy products, like fruit and veg, at the start of each year triggered by New Year resolutions to be more healthy, but this was clearly more sustained growth over most of the year, apart from in the lead up to Christmas when shopping is strongly geared towards buying spirits, wine and other seasonal treats.”

The report noted that besides a shift away from ‘less healthy products’, a significant driver of growth was new product innovation and improved distribution.  Wood noted: “Retailers are wising up to changing consumer habits and preferences and this is making a big difference in the availability of certain products on supermarket shelves, like dairy alternatives (coconut, almond, rice etc) and foods with plant-based proteins. But retailers are also faced with a dilemma – balancing demand by shoppers for choice and convenience with the need to rationalise product ranges and make the whole shopping experience easier.”

Despite the prominence of healthy and alternative items on the 2016 best seller list, sparkling wine and golden and dark rum also feature in the top 10 of products ranked by growth, while gin, which had a strong year last year in supermarkets, also features in the top 20.

IRI Product Growth Categories – 2016:


Size in 2016 £M

Growth %

Growth £M

1. Almond Milk




2. E-cigarettes*




3. Avocados*




4. Fortified Water




5. Coconut Water




6. Peanut Butter




7. Juice Smoothies




8. Sparkling Wine




9. Golden and Dark Rum*




10. Popcorn




11. Gin*




12. Prepared Salads*




13. Bottled Plain Sparkling Water




14. Face Make Up




15. Incontinence Pads




16. Carbonated Mixer Drinks




17. Frozen Vegetarian Foods




18. Lunch Salads*




19. Bottled Plain Still Water




20. Soft Fruit*




All figures from IRI (All Outlets) except * from IRI Retail Advantage (top 9 UK supermarkets only: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Co-op Food, M&S Food, Iceland, Ocado)

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