UK grocery sales were up by 7.4% in the first 12 weeks of 2021, down 3% compared with the same period in 2020, according to Kantar data. The reduction in the growth rate coincides with the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown, which drove a surge in grocery sales. There are also signs that shoppers are returning to physical stores, as growth in online sales was also down. Online sales were 89% higher than this time last year, but the channel’s market share fell back to 14.5% from the record 15.4% recorded in February 2021.
Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “Spring’s arrival signals the start of a really interesting period for the grocery market. The anniversary of the first national lockdown means we begin to compare grocery sales against the record-breaking levels seen in the early days of the pandemic and growth has perhaps not surprisingly dipped over the past four weeks as a result. This time last year, Brits were adjusting to schools and offices closing and making extra trips to the supermarket to fill their cupboards for lockdown. To put that into context, shoppers made 117 million fewer trips to the supermarket this month compared with those fraught weeks in March 2020.”
However, grocery spending remains considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels, and the Easter period may prompt a revival.
“Warmer temperatures and lighter evenings mean many of us are planning outdoor get-togethers over the long weekend – 61% of people are looking forward to socialising with friends again and 23% of households are planning to dust off the barbecue if the weather is kind to us. There are signs of people making a special, even symbolic, effort this year and grandparents might be showing up with additional treats after 12 months of restrictions,” said McKevitt.
Tesco increased its revenue by 8.5% and captured 27.1% of the market, up by 0.3 percentage points compared with the same period last year.
Photo: Eurofresh Distribution
January saw a 9.7% year-on-year rise in sales of produce, according to a report by the PMA, IRI and 210 Analytics. The figure excludes online-only and delivery e-commerce sales, which are well up on 2020 levels.
Joe Watson, VP of Membership and Engagement for the PMA, said: “Produce at retail had a strong January, driven by the two middle weeks ending January 17 and 24. We continue to see highly elevated sales results for vegetables, that are very much in line with the gains seen in the meat department — both pointing at more meals prepared at home. Retail fruit gains have been in the high single digits since the third quarter of 2020 and remain a big opportunity for more at-home snacking, breakfast and lunch.”
Fresh produce generated $6.3 billion in sales during the January weeks. This reflects $198 million in additional fruit sales and $383 million in additional vegetable sales. In fruit, berries remained a dominant force, as did citrus, with sales up 13.1% year-over-year, showing consumers’ consistent turn towards foods perceived to offer healthier lifestyles. Lemons and oranges were the fastest growers. Only grapes lost ground.
As for vegetables, there were double-digit gains for eight out of the 10 leading items.
Photo: Jeronimo Martins
Multi-market Portugal-based retail conglomerate Jeronimo Martins has reported its full-year 2020 results for the period ended 12 January 2021, according to Kantar Retail IQ. Biedronka led growth in the food retail sector in Poland, proving the effectiveness of its speed of response from the first moment of the pandemic, as well as the flexibility of the operation and creativity used to reinforce the competitiveness of its value proposition. Despite the severity of the restriction measures in Portugal, Pingo Doce and Recheio maintained a strong commercial dynamic and spirit of initiative, continuously reinforcing their capacity to mitigate the negative effects from the pandemic. In Colombia, Ara preserved its value proposition during the confinement period with a return to sales growth happening immediately containment measures were lifted.
Overall sales increased 3.5% to €19.3 billion compared to 2019. Biedronka sales in local currency increased by 10.4%, with like-for-like sales up 7.1%. Pingo Doce sales decreased 1.9%, with like-for-likes excluding fuel sales down 2.2%. Recheio sales fell 15.9% to €847 million. Hebe sales in local currency dropped 2.2% to €245 million. Ara sales in local currency increased 24.4% to €854 million, with like-for-like sales increasing by 10.2%.
US organic fresh produce sales were up 15% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, totalling US$2.2 billion, according to a recent report compiled by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners. The Q3 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report details top organic items in dollar sales and volume sales and shows organic fresh produce sales and growth by region.
Bananas continue to lead in terms of volume sales, representing 18% of all organic produce volume. Meanwhile, packaged salads lead the way in terms of value, accounting for 17% of the dollar sales of all organic produce. Organic strawberry sales were also up 27.1%, to $136 million, sales of apples rose by 19.8% to $128 million, and blueberries climbed 17% to $118 million.
Metro’s slight dip in like-for-like sales of 0.5% in the fourth quarter constitutes a strong recovery in performance from the previous quarters (sales declined 5% in the first nine months of the year). According to IGD Retail Analysis, the group attributes the improvement to recovery of food service channels and a positive sales development in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe, which account for over half of the group’s sales, while there has been a sequential improvement in Western Europe and Asia.
Sales were up 8.2% in Russia, climbed 2.7% in Germany, and rose 2% in Eastern Europe (excluding Russia). The group notes the positive effect of the relaxing of COVID-19-related measures and the numerous measures it had taken to strengthen the business operations.
Pink Lady® apples have enjoyed an excellent season in Spain, thanks to a combination of favourable conditions and consumer reliance on fresh and local products. The weather in Spain has been described by growers as “exceptionally favourable” for apple growing, which has translated into an outstanding quality and harvest.
The total volume of Pink Lady® apples harvested in Spain in the 2019-2020 season (produced in the Catalonian provinces of Lleida and Girona) amounts to 7 million kilos, 5.6 million apples sold, an increase of around 30% more than last season. It has also been the best season in terms of sales in the Iberian Peninsula, with the total figures taking into account those grown in Spain and those exported by France.
There is a growing trust from local retail chains in Pink Lady®, with the Spanish market firming as a dynamic market for the brand. Joan Serentil, manager of Fruilar, one of the largest fruit producers and distributors in Spain and certified brand licensee of Pink Lady®, identified a number of factors which have led to the bumper season. “We are talking about a campaign with an all-time record production; a season that, far from having been affected by the crisis in Europe, has stood out compared to previous years. We believe that it may be a result, among other factors, of better preparation on the part of the firm’s network of producers and distributors in Europe, as well as the increase in the consumption of fresh and local products in Spain during the lockdown.”
Spanish Pink Lady® production corresponds to 6% of total European production.
Sales of fresh produce appear to be levelling off in the US, after seeing a rapid surge in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Overall, fresh produce sales in the week ending June 28th were up 5.8% from 2019 levels, which is markedly down on the growth seen in since April 2020. While vegetable sales were up 12.5%, fruit sales rose just 0.2%, according to IRI data. There is still strong performance in the frozen and processed produce segment, with the former up 15.1% and the latter growing 22% from the same time last year. Fresh produce sales stand at $1.36 billion in the week ending June 28th and account for around 83% of overall fruit and vegetable sales in the US. Canned fruit and vegetable sales amount to $155 million and sales of frozen produce total $124 million. The poor performance of fresh fruit sales is particularly worrying for suppliers of summer fruits such as melon, grape and stone fruit. In contrast, vegetables are performing well, with lettuce leading the way in terms of sales growth, followed by tomato and potato.
Between March and May, UK supermarket sales grew at their fastest rate for at least 26 years, according to data published by Kantar. Overall grocery sales were up 14.3% in the 12 weeks up to May 17th. The good weather prompted shoppers to go to parks and beaches, leading to a bump in sales of food for picnics. The VE Day bank holiday on May 8 made it the biggest shopping day of the month, with £488 million spent on groceries.
According to the report, while shoppers are returning to supermarkets, the lack of hungry workers in offices and school closures is offsetting some of the growth. While online shopping has hit a new peak, and now accounts for 11.5% of all grocery sales, customers have started returning to stores, albeit sticking with bigger weekly shops.
Kantar head of retail insight, Fraser McKevitt, said: “People have been working their way through their store cupboards over the past couple of months and some will now be spending a bit more on each visit to the supermarket to replenish supplies. While these are bumper figures, it remains true that the overall picture for some grocers will be less positive, as supermarkets continue to feel the impact of a considerable reduction in on-the-go spend on meals, drinks and snacks. Those categories usually add up to £1 billion over the course of 12 weeks and they aren’t included in these numbers.”
As shoppers are now visiting supermarkets on average 3.5 times a week, this constitutes 100 million fewer trips. At the same time, average spend per trip has increased 50% to £27.41. Families with adult children have seen the greatest increase in spending, with an average monthly spend of £618 compared with £545 last May.
Meanwhile, online shopping deliveries are up 250% year-on-year. “The grocers have attracted a new group of customers, in particular older demographics, and we expect some of them may continue using online services and enjoying the convenience that home delivery provides,” said McKevitt.
© Oh Barcelona, Flickr
Spanish households’ spending on fresh and processed fruit in April was 66.1% higher than for the same period last year, while the spend on vegetables was up 70.5%. This is the finding of a report published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food using data for the week beginning April 13th. While sales were up for all food categories, the fresh produce segment was the best performer.
In terms of the purchasing channels, the fastest growing channel was internet shopping, which was up by over 200% compared to the same period in 2019. Traditional neighbourhood stores also performed well, with sales up 63%. Meanwhile, sales at supermarkets were up 53.2%, while spending at discount stores and hypermarkets also rose by 40.4% and 32% respectively.
In the past five years, strawberry consumption in Italy has slumped by around 3,000 tons, due mainly to consumer dissatisfaction. According to a study by Agroter’s Fruit and Vegetables Monitor, it emerges that 72% were not satisfied with the last purchase of strawberries. Of these, 27% have never found strawberries they liked. Italians feel that the taste of strawberries has deteriorated in recent years – 54% of those interviewed stated that the taste of the strawberries they bought worsened and for 9% this was definitely worse.