Tradition or innovation: What type of products should you be stocking for Christmas 2020?

07 October 2020, 07:11 AM
  • We look at the type of Christmas consumers are seeking this year, and which products you can stock to cater to emerging trends
Tradition or innovation: What type of products should you be stocking for Christmas 2020?

After the rollercoaster of a year 2020 has proven to be, it’s difficult to predict the next few weeks, let alone the Christmas season. But with consumer habits having shifted quite drastically over the past few months, we’ve seen various trends emerge that are already informing buyers’ strategies for the holidays.

Overall, it seems that Christmas 2020 will be all about nostalgic moments, comforting treats and family favourites. After a whirlwind year, consumers are likely to be seeking moments of escapism and comfort, which at Christmas time, can be answered with an array of traditional fodder.

The traditionalists
A recent OnePoll commissioned by Crisp ‘n Dry showed that the classic Sunday roast – featuring all the trimmings, of course – is the nation’s favourite meal. The study of 2,000 UK adults revealed the top 50 best-loved dishes, which also included fish and chips; roast potatoes; Christmas dinner with Turkey; and sausage rolls. The study also revealed that more than six in 10 adults turn to their favourite foods for comfort, while 27% of people enjoy these dishes as they’re nostalgic.

“Whether it’s something simple like sausage and mash, or a full-blown Sunday roast, nothing compares to that sense of achievement and enjoyment when you can sit down to eat a tasty dish,” a spokesperson said about the poll. “Our study has also shown that Brits won’t stray far from their roots with a number of British staples making the list.”

With Christmas providing a sense of escapism, we’re likely to see many consumers turn to family favourites and traditional dishes this year, from pigs in blankets and cured ham, to cheeseboards, mince pies and plenty of sparkling wine.

One key consideration will be stocking meat that’s suitable for smaller groups, given potential restrictions around large gatherings this year. It’s worth speaking directly with your supplier to source these.

When it comes to condiments and trimmings, brands such as Tracklements offer a great selection such as the Particularly British Piccalilli, which is perfect for pairing with Cheddar, cold meats and crusty pork pies. Also consider ready-made gravies and traditional stuffing, as well as staples such as mint sauce from Stokes, and pre-prepared potatoes and Brussels sprouts for those seeking a bit of convenience.

Cheeseboards are another traditional staple, so consider a selection of local cheeses, crackers and biscuits to go with them, and any additional condiments such as Hawkshead Relish chutney.

Don’t forget about breakfast: the traditional way of starting the day with smoked salmon, eggs, pastries and champagne could go down a treat this year. Consider sourcing fish and dairy products from local farmers, in keeping with the growing trend of supporting local businesses and highlighting provenance.

With an increasing number of people cooking from scratch and baking at home, we may see more people eager to cook their own desserts this year, so it’s worth stocking essential ingredients such as flour, mincemeat and ready-rolled pastry sheets, as well as a selection of ready-to-eat cakes and pastries – think mince pies, panettone and roulade.

With comfort the name of the game this year, indulgent sweets and after-dinner treats are certainly on the cards. Consider products such as Booja Booja truffles, Holdsworth chocolate boxes, Buttermilk Fudge and Summerdown Mint chocolates, all available at Cotswold Fayre.

And, of course, Christmas isn’t complete without the booze. Consider stocking British brands, whether it’s wine, bubbly or brandy, as well as some no- and low-alcohol options for the more health-conscious.

Breaking with tradition
COVID-19 has certainly increased consumers’ awareness of the link between diet and health. According to research from Mintel, 23% of Brits say they began eating more fruit and vegetables since the start of the pandemic, while 12% of people admitted that a vegan diet is proving more attractive.

“People want the world to change for the better right now and they are searching for ways to show compassion,” Alex Beckett, associate director at Mintel Food & Drink, said. “For consumers struggling to know how to make a positive difference, cutting out animal protein may be seen as a way of tackling the climate crisis, showing compassion for nature, and boosting their own nutrient intake.”

So despite an overall preference for traditional foods, the rise of health-conscious consumers and meat reducers means that we may see people break from tradition this year, opting for a less-than-traditional centrepiece for their festive spread. Independent buyers may look to brands such as Cook.

For shoppers who prefer to cook from scratch, it’s also worth stocking ingredients they’ll need to make dishes such as homemade ‘pigs’ in blankets, nut roast, Christmas wreaths and vegan Christmas pud. As well as stocking such ingredients, you could offer added-value by providing free recipes for customers to create meat-free dishes at home.

Products to stock for vegetarians and vegans include tofu brands Clearspring and Tofoo; meat-free sausages from Heck; plant-based mince and sausage rolls from The Vegetarian Butcher; and an assortment of dishes such as sausage rolls, roast and pies from Fry’s.

Of course, a selection of vegan cheeses wouldn’t go amiss, either, so that everyone can enjoy a cheeseboard over the holidays. Vegan cheeses include Sheese and Applewood’s vegan smoked cheese.

No matter what products you choose to stock this Christmas, it’s always important to keep your customers’ interests in mind while playing to your brand’s strengths.

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