Can you believe it’s almost June? Looking out of the window, it is hard to believe as we search for the small patches of blue interspersed with the grey, wet clouds. Perhaps change will be here soon and we can then enjoy some much needed outdoor living…..

Anyway, what a strange time we still find ourselves living in. It’s been 15 months since we first adopted the words “social distancing” and “lockdown” as they quickly became woven in to the fabric of our everyday lives. The stories around COVID have been a real gift to the media outlets, as the columns dedicated to vaccines, unlocking and ‘will we, won’t we be allowed to Spain’ show no sign of abating.

This strange phenomena of restricted movement and refocusing on life’s priorities has been felt strongly within the grocery sector. Our well founded routines and habits have been challenged and changed, maybe forever. Over the last year Grocery has been the saving grace for many of those unable to carry out their usual in-store grocery purchases. So, it will come as no surprise to learn that the number of British households shopping for their groceries online has more than doubled in the last year, reaching 41% compared to 18% at the same point in 2020, this is equivalent to 11.8m households and is a 132% increase in sales compared to the same period last year (NielsenIQ March 2021).

Our snacking category too has seen some significant gains in this format, the latest Kantar data shows that sales have increased 176.3% (Kantar 52 w/e 21st March 2021) 

Demand has never been stronger for the snacking category as we see consumption habits expand in to emerging territories of “picky teas” and “casual consumption” – I believe these habits will be here to stay for a good while yet. The traditional side or plate and starter usages we witnessed previously still remain, so don’t worry if you want your samosa before your curry, trust me, it’s OK!

From a cuisine perspective, ‘Tex Mex’ has been a real winner in the snacking category, it’s currently up +47.6% year on year. At first it was hard to understand why, but then the lightbulb lit and it became apparent that the term ‘Tex Mex’ covers a much broader selection of products when compared to other cuisines, so naturally will include more newness being seen in the market place, especially to capture the takeaway market.

Speaking of takeaway, there is no shortage of alternatives that can be found in the grocery market. Whether these be the well-established meal deal options from the likes of Morrisons or a whole new range launch by Tesco under the ‘Heat & Enjoy’ brand. There has never been more choice for us to explore.

As we gradually start to emerge from the lockdown cocoon and the vaccine programme moves at pace, there is more (cautious) optimism at a return to “normal”. Restaurants have fired back in to life, family and friends can meet up once more and you can now have a drink, in an actual pub, indoors!

The question is, how will we react to these once taken-for-granted freedoms? Will we stick to what we have come accustomed to over the last year or go head long in to the life as was? My crystal ball doesn’t show me anything definite yet. All I know is; in a world where there are still huge amounts of uncertainty, we as a species will generally look for certainty………..