Sainsbury’s has announced the top food trends that gripped the nation throughout 2021. A year of lockdowns, reopening’s and TikTok trends, all that inspired a year of food and cooking.

Using data from 17.5 million Nectar customers, the retailer has revealed the products that flew off the shelves, from football final snacks to October pumpkin fun.


2021 kicked off with more people than ever taking on Veganuary.

Sainsbury’s saw 16% more people buying meat alternative products compared to 2020. The most popular of these products was meal alternative sausages and tofu.

TikTok trends

In February, a new TikTok trend took over. As cooking videos became increasingly popular, a huge increase in the Feta pasta was visible, with sales increasing by 62%!

@liemessa Baked feta pasta - the original viral #Uunifetapasta 🍝🔥#bakedfetapasta #tiktokfood #fetapasta #foodtiktok ♬ Feel It Still - Portugal. The Man

The Feta pasta trend was just that, a tray of tomatoes, seasoning and of course, Feta, in the oven and mixed with pasta. Love it or hate it, this trend was all over social media.

Pancake Day

On Pancake Day, Nectar customers seemed to end the battle over chocolate or lemon pancakes. Those purchasing premixed pancake batter were more likely to pick up a jar of chocolate spread instead. 17% opted for the chocolate, while 14% stayed traditional with lemons.

St Patrick’s Day influence

Of course, as St Patrick’s Day came closer Guinness sales soared. However, in 2021 they were even higher than normal, up an incredible 128% from 2020.

The Northern Echo: Guinness (Canva)Guinness (Canva)

Likewise, more people were excited for Easter last year with one million customers buying chocolate eggs in the week leading up to Easter Sunday, 29% more than in 2020.

Back to work

May saw a return of on-the-go purchases. This saw a 160% rise in sales on salads, sandwiches and sushi. Snacking products went up 177%.

Healthy eating

June was a popular month for healthy eating as Sainsbury’s saw the return of Nectar’s Great Fruit and Veg Challenge. Nectar customers purchased records amounts of bananas. Over 7.7 million bunches were consumed over the month, with Londoners being the #1 buyers in 2021.

Carrots were the standout favourite healthy item for 2021, with over 375 million portions bought - that’s five carrots for every person in the United Kingdom!

Football snacks

The return of the UEFA European Football Championship saw a huge rise in crisps sales. Over three-quarters of a million bags of crisps were purchased on the day of the final.

Halloween goodies

Nearly 750,000 Brits purchased a pumpkin in 2021, up 22% from 2020.

The Northern Echo: Pumpkins (Canva)Pumpkins (Canva)

Bonfire night also sparked taste buds with almost half a million hot dogs consumed by Nectar customers.

Christmas treats

2021 saw 3.3 million boxes of mince pies in Sainsbury’s shopping baskets and 2.1 million bags of sprouts!

As the year started with Veganuary, it ended with similar trends as meat alternative dinners were also a big hit last Christmas, with sales up 37% compared to 2020.

Plant Pioneers No Turkey Stuffed Crown seemed to be the winner this year.

And what is the festive season without bubbles? 1.1 million customers purchased bottles of fizz this year, and who can blame them.

Looking across the United Kingdom, customers in Wales, alongside those in the North-West and the West Midlands have the sweetest tooth, with these regions being the top cream cake enthusiasts.

The South-West is the top buyer of speciality cheeses - what a gouda achievement!

The North-East like their news, having the highest sales of national newspapers and the East of England can’t go wrong with a loaf of bread.

Customers in Scotland loved their flavoured cans of fizz.

The Northern Echo: Speciality cheeses (Canva)Speciality cheeses (Canva)

And finally, if you thought the South-West loved their pasties, pies, and pastries the most you would be wrong, with the South-East taking the crown!

Now all digital Nectar customers can access their purchasing stats through the Nectar app, revealing whether customers are the #1 top buyer for a product in their favourite store, as well as uncovering their top three most frequently purchased products.

Mark Given, Chief Marketing Officer at Sainsbury's said: “At Sainsbury’s, we’re passionate about making healthy eating affordable, easy, and delicious. I’m delighted to see that customers have been making food choices that are healthier for both them and the planet, whilst also occasionally indulging in well-overdue celebrations in another unprecedented year.

“Last year we introduced our new commitment Helping Everyone Eat Better and this year we’ll continue to encourage customers to take small steps that make a huge difference, one plate at a time. We're all on a journey and are learning more every day, so I’m excited to see the new trends that sweep the nation in 2022!”