Waitrose sees sales rise in baking, non-alcoholic beverages

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Waitrose sees sales rise in baking, non-alcoholic beverages

By Dan Ochwat - 07/08/2020

In-home entertaining — and indulging — during the coronavirus pandemic has sparked sales of alcohol and baking products over the last few months, and British retailer Waitrose has seen the impact. For one, the retailer’s store brand condensed milk is up more than 200% in sales compared to last year.

In May, Waitrose relaunched its Essential Waitrose brand, a more sustainable upgrade to some of its staple store brands. Essential Waitrose Condensed Milk was one of those classic favorites and it’s a key ingredient in homemade “no-churn” ice creams, which has peaked in popularity recently. The company said searches on Waitrose.com for “no-churn” ice cream have grown by 266% with No-Churn Strawberry Cheesecake Ice-Cream being the most popular with searches surpassing 556%.

Other products seeing an uptick in the baking category include rice pudding and evaporated milk — sales up 30% and 43% respectively, per Waitrose. In a recent interview with Stew Leonard Jr. of Stew Leonard’s in the United States, the grocer also commented on an “explosion” of in-home store brand baking products.

“Being at home for a prolonged period of time has allowed many of us to experiment with new recipes and ingredients we wouldn’t normally buy,” said James Bone, grocery buying manager, Waitrose. “Condensed milk is a fantastically diverse ingredient and works brilliantly not only in no-churn ice cream recipes but also helps to make a rich and smooth caramel for millionaire shortbread."

Adjacent to the alcohol sales that have been rising during the pandemic — Nielsen reported an increase near 30% in May — is a rise in low- and no-alcohol drinks at Waitrose, with the British retailer seeing sales up 50% on non-alcoholic beer and 49% for alcohol-free spirits. Searches for “virgin cocktails” are up 100%, perhaps signaling toward shoppers looking to indulge a bit more responsibly.

Searches for “nonalcoholic gin” were up 211% year over year on Waitrose.com, while “nonalcoholic beer” searches have increased by 29.8% and “nonalcoholic drinks” searches by 157%. 

Waitrose has launched two own brands to leverage the recent trend it said, part of its Scrumptious Summer store brand rollout, including an Elderflower Refresher and Raspberry Ripple Cordial.

“The trend for low and no alcohol drinks has continued to grow over the last year and this has encouraged us to expand our range of non-alcoholic wines, beers and spirits. As more customers look to reduce their alcohol intake, they are able to use this growing range to creatively recreate their favorite tipples with even more ease and enjoy the delicious flavors without the need for alcohol,” said Alex Valentine, No & Low alcohol buyer at the retailer.