More UK shoppers considering meat-free alternatives this Christmas

christmasChristmas has traditionally been considered a time for giving but more and more it has become synonymous with food and drink. New research from IGD has revealed that almost half of UK shoppers believe food and drink to be the most important part of Christmas Day. Grocery therefore has a key role to play.

The UK grocery market is set to experience 2.4 per cent growth this Christmas, with shoppers predicted to spend £21.6 billion over the festive period.

While 65 per cent will opt for the traditional Christmas turkey, this year sees a rise in those choosing meat-free options. Nearly one in 10 plan to opt for a vegetarian or meat alternative this Christmas.

Younger shoppers in particular are planning on experimenting with vegan and vegetarian recipes this year, with 20 per cent of 18-34-year olds planning to make vegan dishes and 25 per cent vegetarian recipes on Christmas Day.

“Although Christmas is very much wrapped up in tradition, we’re starting to see some new and interesting trends emerging in the run-up to the festive period,” Vanessa Henry, shopper insight manager at IGD, said. “In particular, and similar to a trend we’ve seen emerging over the past year or so, there is a greater focus on vegan or vegetarian options for the main Christmas meal centrepiece.”

“Growing media and social media coverage, coupled with greater investment by both retailers and suppliers in these products, means more shoppers are considering these meat-free alternatives this year. Although some families have unique food traditions that they stick to every year with certain foods, Christmas can also be a time to experiment with new and different products.”

Advertising is increasingly influencing grocery purchases over Christmas, with 35 per cent of shoppers admitting they are tempted to buy certain food and groceries based on adverts they have seen.

“For retailers effective advertising drives footfall, but for suppliers the challenge is turning shopper consideration into purchasing,” IGD’s Director of Insight Simon Wainwright said. “Shoppers may be interested in purchasing a product after seeing it advertised, but if it isn’t visible in-store then they are likely to either forget about it or choose to purchase something else.”

“The challenge over the Christmas period is how to create cut-through amongst all the other products and messages that shoppers are presented with in-store. It is important that retailers strike a balance between creating a point of difference and remaining relevant to their target shoppers. Those retailers and suppliers who work together to deliver a compelling in-store experience for shoppers will be well placed to make the most of impulse opportunities.”

Technology will also play its part this year, with 7 per cent of people planning to use their Alexa or Google Home device to help them prepare for Christmas meals. This rises to 11 per cent of families and 17 per cent for 18-34-year olds.

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