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Fruit & veg snacks popular in Europe and Asia-Pacific

Even though fruit is a significant snack globally, and even vegetables are popular in the Asia-Pacific region (57%), cheese is the most eaten snack in Europe (58%), bread/sandwiches in the Middle East (47%), ice cream in Latin America (63%) and potato/tortilla crisps in the US (63%).

Fresh fruit is the world’s most eaten snack (chocolate ranks second), but food preferences between cultures and countries vary in terms of healthy versus indulgent aspects.
Even though fruit is a significant snack globally, and even vegetables are popular in the Asia-Pacific region (57%), cheese is the most eaten snack in Europe (58%), bread/sandwiches in the Middle East (47%), ice cream in Latin America (63%) and potato/tortilla crisps in the US (63%).
Global snacking sales reached $374 billion in 2014 and are growing, says Mark Gillespie, the Global Service Client Director at Nielsen.
At the Fi Europe fair in Paris last December, he shared insights from a survey of 30,000 online consumers from 60 countries. Among them were that people eat snacks at home (79%) with family and friends (68%) and “they stick to the basics – all natural, no artificial colours, GMO-free with natural flavours.
Natural ingredients are rated as very important by 45% of global respondents due to environmental awareness, too,” Gillespie said. Also very important are being sustainable (35%) and organic (34%).

Snacking favourites by region:

• Asia-Pacific: chocolate, fresh fruit, vegetables and cookies/biscuits.

• Europe: fresh fruit, cheese, yoghurt and vegetables.

• Middle East/Africa: fresh fruit, chocolate, bread/sandwich & potato crisps/ tortilla crisps

• Latin America: yoghurt, cheese, ice cream.

• North America: potato crisps/tortilla crisps, chocolate, cheese and cookies/biscuits.

The good news is that snacks are still considered ‘in-between meals’ rather than meal replacements. Long life to fresh food!


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Sweet green still top selling pepper in US


Retail sales of peppers in the United States grew 4.9% in value, to $1.3 billion, and 3.2% in volume, to 603.5 million pounds, year-over-year in the 52 weeks to September 26, 2015, Nielsen data shows.

The sweet green pepper was the biggest seller – accounting for 28.5% of the total spend in the category and nearly 40% of the volume sold – with total sales of $386.9 million (+1.2%) from 235 million pounds (+2.4%).

Next in volume came the sweet red pepper,  up 3.1% on the same period a year before to 118.7 million pounds, followed by the ‘other sweet’ category then hot jalapeno, sweet yellow and sweet orange peppers.

Among the top 10 varieties, the biggest growth YOY was for hot dried peppers, sales of which rose 22.9% in volume to 2.4 million lb while the spend was up nearly 35% to $14.1 million. There was also double digit growth in either the volume, spend or both for hot chilli, hot poblano, sweet yellow and sweet orange peppers.

Though off a much smaller base, sales of the hot ancho pepper shot up 74% in volume (to 25,588 lb) and 140.1% in value (to $205,569) and ‘other hot’ peppers climbed 8.6% in volume (to 116,971 lb) and 16.9% in value (to $8 million).

While sales of the hot habanero pepper fell 10.3% in volume, to 4.8 million lb, they gained 13.1% in value, for a total of $8.6 million. Similarly, sales of the hot Anaheim pepper slid 4.8% to 5.4 million but for a total spend up 4% to $8.6 million.

Down in both value and volume were the hot mixed, hot Scotch bonnet, hot cubanelle, hot habanero, sweet white and sweet purple peppers.


source: Nielsen


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Mandarins outperform oranges for value in US


It used to be oranges, but these days mandarins are driving growth in the value of the citrus category in the United States as consumers continue their love affair with this more compact, often seedless, and easy to peel fruit.

Though just 9.9% of the citrus volume sold, mandarins represented 36.4% of dollar sales in the US retail market for the 52 weeks to September 26, 2015, according to Nielsen data. In comparison, oranges, which form 30% of the category volume, represented a lesser share – 29.2% – of the overall spend.

Relative to the 52 weeks to September 27, 2014, the citrus category grew 8.9% in sales value (to $2.8 billion) and 8.2% in retail sales volume (to 2.2 billion eaches/units of fruit sold). Again, mandarins, with sales of $1 billion, contributed to that growth with a 22% jump in spend, outperforming oranges, which slipped 0.3% in value, to $801.4 million. There was growth of 20.3% in the number of mandarins sold, to 219.1 million, while for oranges it was a more modest rise of 5.6%, though to 666.8 million).

The only other citrus types to log much growth in retail spend apart from mandarins were lemons (+13.5%) and, to a lesser extent, grapefruit (+0.5%), and, in volume, lemons with 5.2%. Limes also grew in volume sales, by 12.4%, overtaking oranges to reach a total sold of 667.4 million, but in value dropped 2.8% to $261 million.


Both tangerines and specialty fruits took a tumble in value and volume, of the order of 7.3% and 8.9% relatively for tangerines and over 15% in both cases for specialty fruits.

Source of all data: Nielsen
‘Citrus fruits’ image by Scott Bauer, USDA. Image released by the Agricultural Research Service. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

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Spanish supermarkets shift more fruit & veg

The recovery in prices and good weather have been a boon for retail sales of fruit in Spain, which in the first nine months of 2015 were up 10.2% on the same period last year.

The recovery in prices and good weather have been a boon for retail sales of fruit in Spain, which in the first nine months of 2015 were up 10.2% on the same period last year.

According to a post by Nielsen Spain’s retail services account manager Gema del Castillo, vegetables have also increased their presence in shopping baskets, rising 7% compared to Jan-Sept 2014.

Del Castillo singled out the avocado for special attention, noting sales growth of 43.9%, “possibly helped by its status as a ‘superfood’.” Also undergoing strong growth were courgettes and artichokes, which both increased their sales by more than 20%, with broccoli not far behind (+19.9%).

But it’s the classics. such as oranges and potatoes, which are still the most common in Spanish shopping baskets, she said.

Fruit and vegetables are also gaining ground in online sales, with growth of 26.3% in sales of this produce online, compared to 8.7% for sales in physical stores.

Interestingly, it’s not just the sale of heavy produce, such as oranges and potatoes, that were popular in online sales, but also ready-to-serve and seasonal produce items. Del Castillo said sales of the latter were helped by online promotions.

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How Spain’s fruit and vegetables market is evolving

Nielsen’s retail services account manager, Gema del Castillo Tamayo, shared insights into today’s Spanish consumer and where opportunities for growth lie.

Is there scope to increase retail sales of fruit and vegetables in post-recession Spain? At the AECOC Fruit and Vegetable Congress in Valencia in June, Nielsen’s retail services account manager, Gema del Castillo, shared insights into today’s Spanish consumer and where opportunities for growth lie.

Signs of economic recovery

Del Castillo started by looking at whether the market is on the road to recovery. Effectively, European consumer confidence continues to improve, she said, but it is yet to return to pre-crisis levels, namely before the big recession hit Europe (in about 2008). Nielsen data shows that In Spain, consumer confidence has reached levels not seen since 2010. There was 3% growth in the Spanish GDP in the first quarter of 2015, while the CPI fell 0.7%.

Other indicators, such as an increase in employment, car registrations, sales of electrical appliances and electricity consumption also augur well for believing that a recovery has started. The hospitality business, for instance, has stabilised, with beverage sales showing growth since 2013 and for the first time in six years the number of establishments has started to increase again. But Del Castillo warned this is a bit of a wobbly start to recovery that is accompanied by uncertainty.

What’s happening with FMCG sales?

Nielsen’s analysis shows that despite a decline in Spain’s population last year, demand strengthened, though with the downside of a drop in retail prices. Compared to 2013, the value of retail sales last year fell 0.4% and prices 1.1% but the volume was up 0.7%. For fresh produce specifically, sales were 1.2% and prices 1.8% lower as the volume rose 0.6%. But compared to last year, retail sales to this April were up 0.7% in value and 1.1% in volume and prices up 0.4%, with the respective changes for fresh produce being +0.3%, +1.2% and -0.9%. Thus overall the context is one of improved demand and a slowing of the drop in prices.

Key components of the fast-moving consumer goods industry during the first quarter of this year were:

  • Strong pace of new store openings and concentration of the top retail chains
  • Supermarkets and superstores are gaining share from specialist and traditional stores
  • A slowing in relation to the increased market share of private label goods (they have since started to grow again)
  • A stable level of deal proneness

Price-sensitive, bargain-hunting shoppers

On the latter, Del Castillo highlighted that, according to Shoppertrends 2015:

  • 24% of consumers will change stores depending on which one offers the best sales promo
  • 37% rarely change stores but do actively look for the special offers
  • 20% say they know the prices of all the articles they buy regularly
  • 46% say they  know the prices of most of the articles they buy regularly and notice when there is a price change
  • 72% of shoppers believe that food prices have risen in the last year

The last figure shows that while there’s been a deflation of prices, many households have not perceived it, she said.

Trends in fruit and vegetables sales

Last year, fruit and vegetables accounted for 11% of Spanish consumers’ shopping spend, up from 10% in 2011.

Sales in the main categories have grown in volume thanks to lower prices. For fruit, it is oranges that are the winners, representing about 27% of the total fruit volume sold in the 12 months to April this year in Spain. Add mandarin sales (7% of the total), and citrus fruit accounts for one in every three fruits sold. Apples (11%) and bananas (10%) were next hottest in demand.

As for vegetables, potatoes formed 29% of the volume sold over the same period and tomatoes 16% and together they account for nearly one in every 2kg of vegetables bought, but just 31% of the total vegetable spend. Next highest in volume came onions (9%) and peppers (5%).

Nielsen’s household panel data shows fresh produce is accounting for an increasing share of the value among all shopping missions, but particularly in the case of routine ones, which are those involving the biggest spend. It is also increasing across all retail channels, but above all in supermarkets and superstores. The latter are gaining ground, moving from 51% in 2008 to 58% in 2014 in terms of fresh produce sales, compared to 49% to 42% for traditional and specialist grocers.

Opportunities for growth: online and convenience channels

Del Castillo said that as growth opportunities, two areas that have already seen major gains outside Spain are the online and convenience channels.

“The online channel is growing at a much faster rate than offline,” she said, displaying figures showing the value of online fresh produce sales value grew 14.7% for the 12 months to April 2015 while offline sales rose just 2.2%.

Fresh produce accounts for a smaller share of the online shopping basket – for fruit it’s 17% for offline and 9% online –  however there are big opportunities for staples such as potatoes.

The key to increasing online sales is to “earn trust through reliability“, Del Castillo advised, and ways to do this include offering customers a refund if they’re not happy with the produce delivered. In her own experience, Del Castillo said the melon delivered to her by online suppliers is usually much tastier than what she picks herself in person.

“More and more shoppers are buying fresh products online despite retailers being sceptical about the potential of this channel for them. The consumer is definitely ready to do part of their fresh product shopping online, all that is lacking is the retailers’ investment to sell these products online properly,” she said.

The convenience channel, which includes a broad range of outlets including petrol stations, fitness centres and airport and train station shops, is also very promising. Sales of convenience products, such as pre-cut and prepared fruit, salad and vegetables in the UK’s leading supermarkets, are worth €1.7 billion a year, according to Nielsen Scantrack Grocery Multiples data.

Photos of Gema del Castillo by Roger Castellón courtesy of AECOC

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How Australia could sell more cucumber, cauliflower and other veg


Emphasise that vegetables like carrots and cucumbers make ideal raw, healthy snacks that can be eaten on the go.

And for other vegetables, highlight the benefits they bring to a meal – like the taste and nutrition of celery, or the variety that pumpkin adds.

These are among tips recently shared by the Australian horticultural body Ausveg, drawing on Nielsen Homescan data.

In a press release this month, Ausveg said Nielsen’s market research identified multi-million dollar opportunities for the Australian vegetable industry via areas with potential for growing vegetable consumption or that could benefit from better product positioning.

For instance, encouraging cucumber-buying households to buy cucumber as frequently as they did a year ago could achieve another (AUD) $4.8 million in sales value, Ausveg spokesperson Kurt Hermann said.

“In some instances, the industry could capitalise on already-increasing sales value – for example, we’ve seen an increase in the value of cauliflower sales on last year, and Nielsen have found an opportunity to gain a further $1.3 million in the senior couples demographic,” he said.

Read the release here.
Cucumber image: by Mgmoscatello (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons