Goodbye mayonnaise, hello harissa: how UK shoppers' tastes have changed

Spicy ingredients are now store cupboard stables

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The Independent Online

UK shoppers buy 3,000 per cent more spices than in the 1960s, according to a new report that shows how British tastes have changed.

British consumers swapped their gravy for turmeric and saffron as changes in population and increased foreign travel got the nation’s taste buds hooked on spicy flavours, according to new research by Sainsbury and food historian Polly Russel.

'Chimichurri, peri peri and harissa sauces are now more popular store cupboard standbys as our taste for international cuisine continues to grow' said Susi Richards, Sainsbury’s Head of Food.

UK consumers are now increasingly using spices in dishes in their weekday diets. Richards said it is not surprising for people to put paprika in lasagne or jalapenos in chicken stew anymore.

Food historian, Polly Russel notes that British taste changed dramatically from a conservative 1950s diet to the eclectic and highly spiced food of today.


'The widespread use of spices in savoury dishes is a relatively new phenomenon. By the 1960s changes in population and increased foreign travel started to transform British taste.' Polly Russel said.

Changing UK tastes could also mean people live longer. A study by the British Medical Journal recently found that those who consumed spicy foods (mainly as chili peppers) once or twice a week lowered their risk of death by 10 percent compared to those who consumed spicy food less than once a week.