NIQ data indicates shoppers focused on simple, healthy meals in January

Frozen fruit has sold well

Frozen fruit has sold well

The popularity of flexitarian diets as consumers take a new-year health kick has boosted sales of fruit and vegetables.

According to figures from NIQ for the four weeks to 27 January, a willingness to mix up their diets and prioritise simple, affordable and lower-waste meals helped increase sales of frozen fruit by 14 per cent and dried vegetables and pulses by 23 per cent.

Total till sales at UK supermarkets grew by 6.6 per cent over the four weeks, reflecting a slow down in food inflation to 6.1 per cent. That represents the lowest rate since June 2022. 

With wetter weather and storms over January keeping shoppers at home, NIQ data reveals an increase (+6.8 per cent) in online grocery spend as the channel maintains share (11.2 per cent) of FMCG sales ahead of in-store shopping, which only grew 5.3 per cent over the period.

In terms of retailer performance over the last 12 weeks, Lidl (+13.2 per cent), M&S (+11.6 per cent) and Ocado (+11.3 per cent) were the fastest-growing retailers. 

Mike Watkins, NIQ’s UK head of retailer and business insight, said: “Shopping visits increased again in January and was helped by the return of smaller baskets after the big trolley spends in December. In addition, many households were moderating spend as paying off Christmas bills takes priority. To put this in context shoppers spent 24 per cent less on food and drink in January compared to December.”

Meanwhile, despite consumer confidence slowly improving, there remains some caution for FMCG spend as NIQ Homescan research also shows that 62 per cent of households anticipate that in the first part of 2024 they will be moderately or severely affected - more so for households with families - which is up from 57 per cent at the end of last year.

“As we look ahead and sentiments and shopper behaviour change, we expect to see the trend of managing overall basket spend continue even as inflation continues to slow, with Easter and warmer weather in spring giving the next boost to FMCG spend,” Watkins added.