The British appetite for avocados is driving a significant increase in fresh produce sales this year as UK shoppers spend £175.6 million more on fresh fruit overall in 2016.
Fresh fruit and ‘free from” items led the way in this year’s fastest growing grocery items, according to Nielsen’s annual analysis of supermarket till sales. The global marketing research firm says the latest data shows UK consumers are adopting healthier eating habits.
And it’s the avocado that is making the biggest strides - shoppers spent almost £50 million more on the fruit this year making it the single fastest-growing food or drink item. Avocados are increasingly prized as a source of ‘good fats’ and their popularity has steadily grown in the UK partly fuelled by celebrity chefs and food bloggers. They are now the UK’s eighth biggest selling fruit.
Meanwhile blueberries and raspberries also saw a big increase with blueberry sales increasing 15.8 percent to £322.1million. Clementine sales increased 10.3 percent, worth £307.8 million.
While UK consumers spent £175.6 million more (up 4 percent) on fresh fruit compared with 2015, sales of ‘free from’ products went up 18.9 percent to £122.9 million, making the category worth £772.2 million a year. This includes dairy and gluten free products.
The only other category to see such a significant increase like fresh fruit and ‘free from’ is sparkling wine, with sales going up 15.5 percent at £101.9 million. Meanwhile bottled water is the fourth largest grower, a rise of £81.9 million taking it past the £1 billion mark.
“The nation is increasingly concerned about diet and health, over four in 10 Britons now actively avoid certain ingredients in what they eat and drink, which is reflected in fresh fruit and free-from being the fastest-growing categories,” says Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight.
“To some, free-from may still have the air of an “alternative” or niche category but it’s now nearly 40 percent bigger than a signature staple of British consumption – tea.
"As one of the fastest growing categories, retailers are now giving free-from more space on shelves and it’ll eventually feature in nearly every category and aisle.”
The Nielsen scanning service measures total store sales every week by stock-keeping unit (SKU) for 20,000 shops across all food and drink trade channels in the UK.