Conad now top Italian supermarket

Thu 14/04/2016 by Richard Wilkinson
Founded in Bologna in 1962, Conad is now the biggest independent retailers’ cooperative, with its own central buying and services office within the national consortium.

Conad can be found in 1,380 municipalities nationwide. It has nearly 3,000 affiliated points of sale of all types: hypermarkets, superstores, supermarkets, discount stores and neighbourhood shops, in all the regions and provinces of Italy. They complement and supplement each other through different combinations of ranges, prices and levels of service.

Outside Italy, Conad can also be found in Albania, Malta and San Marino. A survey in February 2015 found 7.8 million families are regular Conad customers, a 31.7% market penetration of Italian households. The average of about 45 till receipts each a year for these consumers makes Conad the firm with the highest purchase frequency.

Also, in spite of the economic crisis, Conad again saw its turnover grow in 2015, to a total of €12.2 billion, up by 4.2% on 2014, taking its market share in Italy to 11.8%. Conad has therefore strengthened its market position in Italy and has also become number 1 in the supermarket sector, with a 19% share.

100% Italian-grown apples

In fruit and vegetables, which account for 10.3% of its total turnover, apples make up a sizeable proportion of its sales. Last year, over 43,000 tons of this fruit were sold.

“The apples Conad sells are 100% of Italian origin and the range offered by our hypermarkets and superstores is the widest on offer in the various formats,” explained head buyer Daniele Furlani.

Pear sales in 2015 were close to 14,000 tons. They are all Italian for as long as this origin is available:

“At the height of the season the range includes Abate, white Williams, red Williams, Kaiser, Decana and Conference pears, and others depending on region such as Coscia, Morettine, Santa Maria, Forelle and Gujot.”

Of all the citrus fruit that Conad sells, oranges stand out, with sales last year reaching nearly 29,000 tons. Here again, the origin is Italian for as long as possible:

“In spring and summer, once Italian-grown varieties are no longer available we cut back considerably on the space and the number of lines and bring in counter-season products, above all from South Africa.”

Peaches are the biggest summer stone fruit and are also an important segment for Conad, which sold around 23,000 tons of them in 2015.

“Their origin is Italian when these varieties are available, but in April and May we sell Spanish fruit. Our range includes yellow peaches, yellow nectarines, white peaches, white nectarines, clingstone peaches and other local varieties, such as Tabacchiere and Saturnia.”


Tomatoes a topseller

In vegetables, tomatoes take the lion’s share, with over 32,000 tons sold in 2015, mostly of Italian origin. “We only have Spanish and Dutch tomatoes for any noticeable length of time in the red and vine types. At the height of the season the range covers ripe red types, cherry, cocktail and date tomatoes, green and red oblong tomatoes, green tomatoes, oxheart and ribbed types and other varieties depending on the region, such as sauce tomatoes, Camone, yellow cherry and date tomatoes, orange date tomatoes and red mini oblong tomatoes.”

Conad brand: 4 main lines

The Conad brand is one of the strategic pillars of the firm’s message to consumers and has the specific mission of strengthening brand loyalty, contributing to building category margins for growers and suppliers and satisfying consumers’ needs in a simple, relevant and competitive way.

“The Conad private label covers over 2,900 loose and prepacked products. In 2015, it achieved a retail sales volume of €2.8 billion, up by 10.7% on the previous year. One in three of these products is a market leader and these results confirm Conad as the second-ranking Italian retail chain in terms of branded sales impact.”

Conad brand products are divided into four main lines: Conad, the longstanding red logo, is the backbone; Conad il biologico is the organic brand for products with the highest standards of guarantees, food safety, security and defence of the environment, but does not include fresh fruit and vegetables; Sapori & Dintorni is the premium line, including PDO and PGI products; while Conad Percorso Qualità, distinguished by its green logo, refers to the world of fresh products guaranteed by innumerable checks throughout the value chain and accounts for 24% of fruit and vegetable sales.

“The quality specifications are very rigorous. We are talking about over 400,000 checks a year on all product lines and over 1,200 inspection visits a year to production facilities. In this way we guarantee the intrinsic quality of the products, a secure quality, in line with the trend towards a correct diet and consumer safety.”

What’s new for organic

Conad will soon unveil a major innovation in the organic products sector.

“We are about to launch a new brand in the green segment which includes organic, environmental, fair trade, and vegetarian and vegan food categories. We have measured up to current sensibilities and are entering this market in a big way,” Furlani said.

This article appeared on page 21 of issue 142 (March/April 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that edition online here.

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