Growing trends towards cooking at home and affordable treats are breathing renewed life into traditional grocery categories and offering huge potential for neighbourhood retailers.

Latest data from industry analyst SalesOut revealed that sales of cooking ingredients and oils in the independent sector grew by 29.3% in the year ending March 2009. Pasta and rice saw a 20.8% rise in sales for this period, while sales of baking ingredients rose by 14.2%.

The canned foods and pickles, sauces and condiments categories saw increases of 11.2% compared with the previous year.

SalesOut commercial director Steve Collins said: “These buoyant sales are evidence that the independent sector can perform well, even in a tough marketplace, particularly if stores take time to understand their local marketplace and consumer needs.”

Andrew Dike, who runs Dike & Son in Stalbridge, Dorset, has seen evidence of the trend. “In the past six months or so there has been a lot of demand for pasta,” he said. “We’ve also had people looking for gluten- and wheat-free pasta.”

The survey also revealed that sales of crisps and snacks were up 7.9% and biscuits were up 10.9%, attributed to people compensating for the recession with affordable take-home treats.

Graham Knowles of G & G Knowles, Aberdeen, agreed. “I think people are staying home more and want to treat themselves. Biscuits sales have really grown recently.”

Andrew added while crisps and biscuits may have become more popular, sales of luxury desserts have dropped since the beginning of the year. He said: “Cheesecakes and apple tarts used to be very popular but now sales of these have really slowed as people try to save money by buying cheaper treats.”


❝ Cooking at home has become so popular in the past few months that we’re looking into dedicating more shelf space to it in

our store.”

Andrew Dike

Dike & Son, Dorset

❝ Pasta sauces are very strong sellers. Whenever we have a promotion on them in the store, it’s gone down very well with our customers.”

Graham Knowles

G & G Knowles, Aberdeen

❝ Over the past six months, pastas and tinned foods have become much more in demand. People seem to be buying their food on a day-to-day basis rather than doing a big weekly supermarket shop.”

Steve Moore

Spar, Staffordshire