Healthier eating options embraced during latest lockdown

New sales data for the first quarter of 2021, published by leading Irish retail group BWG Foods, shows that Irish consumers have embraced a healthier New Year by consuming record levels of fruit and vegetables.


Overall, vegetable sales are up 18% on the same period last year, with fruit up 6% over the same period. The best-selling vegetables included peppers, which were up 17 % on the first three months of 2021, and the ever-popular Potato, up 15%, while the humble carrot experienced the biggest uplift in sales having recorded a 26% increase.


Bananas remain the most popular fruit amongst Irish consumers; however, strawberries were up 25% on the same period last year. The overall biggest gain was in the citrus category with easi peelers up approximately 65% during the period.


Data from BWG Foods, owners and operators of the SPAR, EUROSPAR, Londis, MACE and XL retail brands which together have a network of more than 1,000 stores across Ireland, also showed that consumers revisited their love for family baking as a result of the latest lockdown, with the sale of home baking products up 4%.


Naturally, as people spend less time on the move and more time cooking at home, indulgent categories such as food-on-the-go options have seen a decrease in sales of almost 15% in the first quarter of this year.


That said, from a seasonal perspective, consumers have been ready to reward themselves on pivotal occasions after three months of healthy eating, with Irish shoppers quick to pick up a treat for themselves, purchase a gift for someone else or try a new product. Retailers have seen a phenomenal 31% increase in sales of boxed chocolates and sweets, helped no doubt by Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, while large sharing chocolate bars have increased by 17.17%. Additionally, the group has seen an increase of Easter Egg sales of more than 6% to date year on year, with retailers experiencing quicker sales than previous years and sales expected to grow as Easter Sunday comes closer.


Figures also show that Irish shoppers used the latest lockdown to spruce up their homes with an early spring clean as the sales of household cleaning products increased 34% over since the start of March.


Commenting on the sales data, John Moane, Chief Commercial Officer BWG Foods said, “A year on from the first national lockdown, we continue to see the pandemic impact the way that people shop, with demands for different food products changing depending on the environment and restrictions. At BWG Foods, we continue to use intelligent category management to ensure our retailers have shelves fully stocked with the right products to satisfy the changing trends we are seeing.


Our latest data shows a positive picture of consumer trends as Irish shoppers have focused on healthier options throughout the first quarter of the year, creating a surge in demand for fresh fruit and vegetables and baking products. Interestingly, this trend has shifted somewhat towards the second half of the quarter where it is clear consumers are keen to celebrate key holidays with well-earned rewards and chocolate being a go to category.”


As we head deeper into spring and the weather continues to improve, there appears to be only one vegetable on the minds of Irish shoppers, with sales of Asparagus up an incredible 138%, which is reflective of the “eat in” experience mirroring what has previously been an “eat out” trend.

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