Forget summer barbecues - Waitrose has just unveiled a chocolate mince pie
A supermarket has kicked off the annual mid-summer battle of the Christmas food offerings with a delicacy sure to divide festive purists - the chocolate mince pie.
Waitrose, which in previous years has been responsible for banana and bacon trifle, profiteroles stuffed with salmon and prawns and turkey with golden sparkly butter, has this year turned to the classic mince pie to grab consumer attention.
The hybrid of chocolate pastry and traditional mincemeat are at the luxury end of the price scale at four for Â£2, and "release the aroma of chocolate and that distinctive festive smell of mincemeat".
The upmarket grocer is among the first to unveil its festive offering, and over the coming weeks all the major food retailers enter into the fierce battle to grab shoppers' attention with their increasingly unusual products.
Marks and Spencer, which has previously dreamed up chilli tortilla chips dipped in chocolate and a Brussels sprout smoothie as part of its Christmas food range, is expected to reveal its creations in September.
Toy retailers have also begun to reveal their lists of predicted top selling gifts, while the Hobbycraft chain of stores has already launched its Christmas shop in 87 stores and online.
However, consumer enthusiasm for festive spending remains uncertain, with polls divided over the resilience of confidence after the general election and ahead of Brexit and inflation hitting its highest level for nearly four years in May at 2.9%, tightening the squeeze on consumers already struggling due to low wage growth.