According to the latest data from IRI, sales of green vegetables and soft fruits increased dramatically during 2015, indicating a clear opportunity to independent retailers.

Sales of avocados grew 31%, while demand for spinach rose 21% and greens by 12%. Soft fruit sales also increased by 12%, topping £1bn in 2015.

Nuts & dried fruit benefited from an 8% increase.

The report stated that while there was growth in fresh fruit and vegetables, other categories such as fizzy drinks, fruit juices and squash were “losing ground”. Bottled water stood out with a 10% sales increase.

Martin Wood, head of strategic insight for retail, said the categories were receiving a boost from shoppers’ changing attitudes towards “free-from, natural products and food authenticity.”

“Based on our data, it’s clear that retailers are already supporting this healthy agenda, but they do need to ensure they maintain it with the right price, promotion and marketing strategies,” he added.