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Sales of green vegetables and soft fruits soar

The health of the nation is in good shape according to new figures just released from big data leader IRI, showing a steep rise in the purchase of green vegetables, such as avocados and spinach, and soft fruits [IRI Retail Advantage top 9 supermarkets £ sales 52 wk to 2 Jan 2016].

IRI figures also suggest that more and more people are now purchasing blenders and juicers from their supermarkets. With sales up 49% over the past year from the major multiples, a nod to healthier eating habits and the influence of brands like NutriBullet. While supermarkets are just a small part of the overall picture in terms of sales, with most people purchasing electrical products online or at electrical stores, it indicates that such items are now mainstream.

According to IRI, sales of avocados rose by 31% last year, worth an extra £34m to UK supermarkets over the year before, while demand for spinach rose by 21% and greens by 12%. As the craze for blending and juicing continues to grip the country, soft fruit sales also increased by 12%, topping £1bn in sales last year and adding an extra £115m to the economy over the year before.

However, while the health boom benefits fresh fruit and green vegetables, other categories are losing ground, including fizzy drinks, fruit juices and dilute-to-taste products. On the other hand, value sales of bottled waters are increasing, with the category seeing nearly a 10% increase last year to £670m. Flavoured and unflavoured sparkling and still waters all saw increases over the past year [IRI 52 weeks to 30 Jan 2016].

Martin Wood, Head of Strategic Insight – Retail Solutions & Innovation at IRI, explains: “It’s clear that certain categories are receiving a boost from shoppers’ changing attitudes towards ‘free-from’, natural products and food authenticity, and an increased awareness of the health benefits of certain foods and ingredients. Typically we expect these figures at the start of the year when people adopt more healthy eating habits, but it’s interesting that our data shows growth trends across the whole year.

“At a time when obesity rates are at their highest in the UK, it’s encouraging to see this, possibly as a result of pressure on the government to levy a sugar tax on food and drink and the influence of celebrities like Ella Woodward. Based on our data, it’s clear that retailers are already supporting this healthy agenda, but they do need to ensure they maintain it with the right price & promotion and marketing strategies.”

IRI Retail Advantage figures – Top growth food sub categories by % change value sales 52 week ending 2 Jan 2016 vs. a year ago:

Year Ago

Current Period

% change









        SOFT FRUIT








        EXOTIC VEG




















Other IRI insights:

IRI and Co-op collaborate to provide data science apprenticeship programmes

IRI and Costco launch Costco CRX

IRI expands with investment in GIRA Foodservice

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