Bovril dropped for balsamic as UK homes replace traditional staples

Bovril dropped for balsamic as UK homes go gourmet: Couscous, harissa and coconut milk replace traditional staples like corned beef, condensed milk and spam

  • Bovril and sardines, once common in U.K. cupboards, are falling out of fashion 
  • Baked beans, biscuits, tinned soup, and lentils remain popular after forty years 

British cupboards are now home to staples few would have heard of in 1980 including couscous, harissa and coconut milk, according to a study.

Research among 2,000 adults found one in three homes now have a bottle of soy sauce available at all times, 10 per cent always have rice crackers and 25 per cent consider balsamic vinegar an essential ingredient.

However, corned beef, condensed milk and spam are only likely to be found in a parent’s or grandparent’s cupboard – along with tinned peaches (27 per cent), tinned sardines (21 per cent) and Bovril (21 per cent).

But some favourites have stood the test of time, with baked beans, biscuits, tinned soup, chopped tomatoes, tinned tuna, and lentils still commonplace after 40 years.

Almost a fifth (18 per cent) believe there are five to ten items at the back of their cupboards which are long past their use by date.

Couscous is among some of the ‘new’ ingredient staples found in British cupboards (file image)

Coconut milk is also among new products that have muscled their way onto British palates (file image)

Research has found one in three British households now have soy sauce on hand (file image)

And 61 per cent even think they’ve got spices, tins or bags with foodstuffs that are up to four years old.

Exactly one in ten respondents say they can’t remember the last time they had a proper sort-out of their kitchen cupboards, as 52 per cent admit they worry about throwing away and wasting staple foodstuffs.

Just over eight in ten (83 per cent) are likely to save cooked food and use them as leftovers, rather than throw them away.

Of these, 79 per cent hate to see food wasted, and 51 per cent fret about how much more expensive food is now, according to the data.

To bulk out their meals, 48 per cent are adding more vegetables, and 32 per cent will include old leftovers in a new meal.

Around a fifth (19 per cent) will experiment with the items in their cupboards to enhance a meal they’re making and reduce waste.

When it comes to helping others, half of us (49 per cent) have donated to food banks and charities – with 19 per cent donating more to food bank in recent years to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

British classic Bovril is among the products to have become less popular over recent decades  

Tinned sardines, once a staple in many U.K. larders, are now only found in 21 per cent of them 

Research found that tinned tuna remained popular, coming in at the eighth most common cupboard staple 

The study was commissioned by SPAR to launch its ‘Giving One Million Meals’ project with charity FareShare.

SPAR is donating £250,000, with contributions from Coco-Cola and Robinsons, and for every £1 given, FareShare can redistribute enough food for the equivalent of four meals to people in need across the UK.

Suzanne Dover from SPAR said: ‘We understand how important it is to have the cupboard essentials you need to hand and it’s really interesting to see how these essentials have changed over the years and which are still our firm favourites.’

Polly Bianchi, director of fundraising at FareShare, added: ‘The donation will make a significant contribution to our work getting good-to-eat food, which might otherwise go to waste, to people who need it.

‘As the winter months approach, our network of 8,500 charities across the UK will be working hard to provide hearty, nourishing meals for people in their communities.

‘Each group provides vital wraparound services to support people impacted by the cost of living crisis and the contribution made will go a long way to strengthening those communities.’


1. Pasta

2. Baked beans

3. Rice

4. Chopped tomatoes

5. Olive oil

6. Gravy

7. Biscuits

8. Tinned tuna

9. Jams and marmalades

10. Tinned soup

11. Porridge oats

12. Tomato puree

13. Pasta sauces

14. Soy sauce

15. Honey

16. Chocolate bars

17. Tinned sweetcorn

18. Kidney beans

19. Chickpeas

20. Balsamic Vinegar

21. Dried Fruit

22. Cereal Bars

23. Lentils

24. Sweet chilli sauce

25. Sweets

26. White wine vinegar

27. Pesto

28. Couscous

29. Coconut milk

30. Seeds

31. Rice Crackers

32. Noodles

33. Harissa paste

34. Teriyaki sauce

35. Quinoa

36. Bulgur Wheat

37. Orzo

38. Miso paste

39. Mirin

40. Matcha Tea

Source: / SPAR 

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