The UK supermarket group Waitrose has analysed its customer base and believes it has identified the emergence of a new spectrum of vegetarian eating patterns.

"To celebrate Vegetarian Week 2006, Waitrose has analysed its customer base and has identified a new breed of eating types who are now contributing to this growing UK market," the company said.

Waitrose has broken down these consumers into four groups.

'Accidental Vegetarians' are consumers who, driven by an increasing awareness of the health benefits of eating a wide variety of vegetables, and advancements in the range and taste of prepared vegetarian foods, dip in and out of vegetarianism at will.

'Summer Veggies' turn to a menu of fresh fruit and salads in the summer, but revert to meat once the weather gets colder.

'Veggie-share-ians' are those who become vegetarian because their partner professes to be a vegetarian. To make daily living easier, the consumer avoids cooking separately by drifting in and out of the lifestyle. The couple samples both meat and vegetable based foods.

'Farmivores' are consumers who like eating meat but who are increasingly interested in the origins of their food and now want to be confident that high animal welfare standards have been maintained in its production.

A Waitrose spokesperson said: "A new generation of fashionable foodies is enjoying the raft of food on our shelves which is free from meat. Rather than giving up animal products, we have discovered that many of our shoppers are simply looking out for the markers of good animal welfare and enjoying the delicious vegetable options we have on offer."