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Aldi to continue expansion in northern Italy in 2021

Aldi ccontinues to expand in Italy © Shutterstock

© Shutterstock


Aldi will continue its expansion in Italy, which has seen an average of three openings per month (mainly in the north), despite the many difficulties caused by the pandemic. The fruit and vegetable department continues to play a central role, as it seeks to keep the supply chain as short as possible by offering a generous selection of about 120 items of fresh fruit and vegetables.

About 80% of the food products sold by Aldi in Italy come from Italian and regional suppliers, promoting strong local links, while respecting sustainability and the seasonal rhythms of fruit and vegetable production. 

Aldi’s corporate responsibility principles are laid out in a multi-year Today for Tomorrow programme, which aims to ensure sustainable development for the environment and for the society of the future. Faced with a growing number of stores, in May, Aldi doubled its logistics capacity to optimise the distribution process and now has two centres, in Oppeano (Verona) and in Landriano (Pavia). In line with the policy of greater energy efficiency, both logistics centres and shops are equipped with LED lighting and solar energy panels and all buildings are EN ISO 50001 certified.

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Spanish supermarkets gain market share during Covid-19 lockdown

Spanish supermarkets gain market share during Covid-19 lockdown


In 2019, Spanish supermarket sales increased by 4% to €60.3 billion, according to Euromonitor data. Supermarket sales are expected to grow by 3% in the next five years. The retail competitive landscape in Spain is highly fragmented, but led by major grocery retailers. Mercadona retained its leadership in 2019, followed by Carrefour. In the medium term, internet retailing is expected to see the fastest growth. Grocery retail in Spain consists of hypermarkets/supermarkets, convenience stores, major discount stores and specialised stores coexisting alongside traditional corner grocery stores and open- air markets. 

The total number of retail outlets has decreased over the past decade and the consolidation of the retail food industry continues. The State of Emergency brought a whole new meaning and value to proximity shopping. With the saturation of online channels and the government-mandated movement restrictions, proximity shopping became key for many Spanish consumers. This led to regional supermarket chains multiplying their sales during the first two months of lockdown. This rise in sales reinforced their market share in a sector typically dominated by large operators in the market. The fact that regional chains gained so much ground in Spain during the pandemic is a unique phenomenon in the European region.

The other frontrunner during the pandemic has been online retail, with ecommerce fresh product sales rising 141%. The profile of consumers reached through this channel has changed, too, with over 65-year-olds increasing their online purchases by 210%. According to Alimarket, eCommerce increased by 115% in value and gained 15.5% more buyers.  In the cities of Barcelona or Madrid, online sales have already reached almost 5%, in line with other European capitals. 

The COVID-19 crisis revitalised consumer preferences for domestic foods (or food patriotism) around the world. In Spain, this trend is expected to continue beyond the pandemic. Spanish consumers indicate that they are now paying more attention to the origin of products. In response to this sentiment, some retailers have launched initiatives to promote the consumption of Spanish products. The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has also placed great emphasis on encouraging consumers and distributors to support farmers by buying local.  

Photo: Mercadona Spain

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SPAR South Africa’s rural hubs show promise

SPAR South Africa’s rural hubs show promise


Sustainable local supply chains for produce grown in remote areas are at the project’s heart

SPAR South Africa sees small-scale rural farmers as the key to a sustainable future for the vast nation. It believes they can help improve food security, affordability and nutrition for its rural communities. With the Dutch-founded SPAR Group and support from the Dutch government, it has created a rural hub business model based on packhouses serving as mini distribution centres in outlying areas of South Africa. The idea is to develop local supply chains of fresh produce in a cost-efficient and environmentally responsible way. And while its initial two hubs have not been without challenges and are not yet profitable, SPAR South Africa believes “we have created a sustainable model that can be rolled out nationally.”

More rural farmers starting to thrive 

SPAR’s first rural hub was established in Mopani, in Limpopo, South Africa’s northernmost province, in June 2016. It is based on the concept of a central fresh assembly point (FAP), which acts as a collection point for a range of fresh produce sourced from smallholder farmers to supply local SPAR stores within a radius of up to 200 km. SPAR says that over July 2018 / June 2019, 10 farmers/groups supplied the Mopani hub, many of whom could finance a portion of their business themselves for the first time – a sign that they can now stand on their own feet. The hub bought produce worth R1.26 million (≈€80,300) from them, with crops including green beans, baby marrows, butternuts, baby corn, cabbage, watermelon and lettuce. The hub in turn supplied 41 customers, most of which were SPAR stores, and in the past year sold more produce to informal traders, something seen as a significant development. A second rural hub business was established in Ikhwezi, in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga, in October 2017, with a group of 36 smallholder farmers. Over the same period, the Ikhwezi hub purchased produce worth R1.16 million (≈€74,000) from 24 farmers. Crops included tomatoes, cabbage, butternut, green beans, bitter melon, lettuce and sweet potatoes. The packhouse supplied 27 customers, most of which were SPAR stores.

Overcoming challenges

SPAR chairman Mike Hankinson says the rural hub project shows early signs of being financially sustainable for a group of small emerging farmers, but there was a need to find new ways for the economics around delivery and packing to make sense. One challenge was that low-margin products, such as cabbage and spinach, continued to be sourced by local SPAR stores directly from smallholder farmers in close proximity to the stores. However, many of these small businesses were at risk as they lacked food safety accreditation to sell their produce directly to stores. Routing these products through the FAPs, on the other hand, incurred unnecessary transport and handling costs. To address such issues, SPAR has developed a model to transport certain produce directly from farmer to store, while other items are distributed through the central FAP. Also, the farmers have received food safety training in order to get local.g.a.p certification, and technology solutions were introduced to help farmers grow high value crops and extend their growing seasons, thereby improving their sustainability. “We remain committed to the concept of rural farmers supplying fresh produce to SPAR stores. It has the potential to provide employment, grow rural economies, ensure food security and improve nutrition, while reducing transport costs for SPAR, shorten lead times, and increase freshness and shelf life,” Hankinson said.

SPAR South Africa acts as a supermarket supplier

Established in 1963, SPAR South Africa grants licences to independent retailers to operate stores under one of four formats, with almost all of its current store portfolio independently owned. “The SPAR Group in Southern Africa acts as a wholesaler distributing the entire range of goods stocked by a typical supermarket, including fresh produce,” SPAR South Africa fresh food manager Peter Gohl told ED. “We supply a range of about 450 fresh produce products to about 850 independently owned and managed SPAR retail stores through 6 strategically located distribution centres. Excluding our SPAR Group Ltd European and UK/Irish holdings, the Southern Africa turnover in fresh produce amounted to about €320 million over the past 12 months. Of this, the fruit category contributed €130 million and imports in the fruit category amounted to €28 million,” he said.


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Japanese supermarket giant Aeon, in online grocery push

AEON organic retail store

AEON organic retail store

Credit: Aeon



Aeon is partnering with British online grocery pioneer Ocado to launch a new company by March 2020 that will use AI and robotics to deliver a cutting-edge digital experience. Also, as a sustainability initiative, Aeon has set up a platform to help boost organic farming in Japan, where demand is outstripping supply of organic food.


Fresh food delivery has yet to truly take off among the Japanese, who largely still pick up fresh produce on a daily basis. But with better logistic networks and different demographics – such as more dual-income households and senior citizens – that’s forecast to change. And with AmazonFresh already in Tokyo, and Walmart (owner of Aeon rival Seiyu) beefing up its online grocery delivery together with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, it’s no surprise that supermarket Aeon is also making the leap. In a statement in November, Aeon said it will leverage Ocado’s world leading know-how to launch and operate “the next generation online supermarket.” It plans to open its first customer fulfilment centre harnessing the Ocado Smart Platform by 2023 to serve Japan’s Kanto region, followed by others over the following two years in order to eventually serve the whole country. And it anticipates achieving online grocery sales of about 600 billion yen (about €4.92b) by 2030. “Aeon will realise a highly efficient operations and distribution system to deliver ‘anytime, anywhere, anything’ through a superb application interface to meet our customer needs. It is expected that these technologies can be utilised for the existing Aeon online supermarket business, store pick up, click & collect,” the company said in a press release. Aeon also plans to seek more partners both in Japan and around the world in order to be at the forefront of the digital era. Ocado, it should be mentioned, has also been chosen as a partner by other major supermarket groups around the world, including Kroger in the US, Casino in France, Marks & Spencer in the UK, ICA in Sweden and Coles in Australia.

Produce from farms run by Aeon Agri Create // Credit: Aeon


A platform to boost organic production 

Two other key initiatives from Aeon are in the area of organic food. Back in 2017, among the sustainable procurement goals the group set itself was that of boosting the sales ratio of organic products to 5% of all its agricultural products by 2020, also when Tokyo will host the summer Olympics. Aeon says it wants to contribute to “human, social and environmental health” through organic products, furthermore ones that are “cultivated, distributed and consumed naturally.” It also says it is “responding to our customer demands for safer, better tasting, and environmentally friendly food products.” However, while interest in organic produce is on the rise in Japan, “supply of organic products has not caught up with growing consumer demand,” it says, and “organic JAS certified producers in Japan account for only 0.2% of all farmers.” Given this context, in September 2019 the retailer announced another initiative, the new Aeon Organic Alliance (AOA). In a statement, it said this platform will boost the supply of organic products and help farmers overcome the burden of high organic cultivation costs and those incurred due to inefficient distribution, as well as giving them opportunities to gain new skills, exchange information and share and solve issues together. The AOA platform will be used to “centrally manage production, procurement, processing, distribution, and sale of organic agriculture products.”

Organic produce in Bio c’ Bon store in Japan // Credit: Aeon


14 new organic stores in Japan

AOA members will also have access to technological know-how for the acquisition of Global G.A.P. and organic JAS certification. Aeon has acquired such expertise via the 20 farms it directly manages across Japan. The farms are operated by the company Aeon Agri Create and three hold organic JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) certification, one of which is the fully organic 16 ha Saitama Hidaka Farm. Aeon’s organic farms will serve as distribution bases that collect products from growers who are members of its organic alliance, thus reducing distribution and delivery costs while also facilitating joint purchasing of materials necessary for cultivation, which in turn lowers costs. Furthermore, an AOA website will share what is happening in stores, including customer feedback, product line-ups, and sales performance, as well as overseas trends and other relevant information. It will also serve as a communication platform for connecting producers. Another group subsidiary, Aeon Topvalu, develops Aeon’s private brand for organics, Topvalu Gurinai, which is sold in group stores across Japan. Also providing a sales outlet for organic produce in Japan are the Bio c’Bon stores operated by Aeon in partnership with French firm Bio c’ Bon. There are now 14 such stores in Japan.

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Growth in Irish grocery market but uncertain times ahead

SuperValu retained its position as Ireland’s largest retailer, growing its sales by 1.4% and capturing 22.6% of market share.

The recent EU referendum result and weakening of the pound against the euro could see many Irish shoppers return to old habits – heading across the border in search of better value at UK retailers in Northern Ireland, suggests Kantar Worldpanel.

While such cross-border shopping only accounted for 0.3% of Irish grocery sales in the latest 12 week period, at the peak of the recession it stood at 4.1%, the shopper behaviour expert said.

The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, for the 12 weeks June 19, show continued growth for the grocery market with sales up 2.5% on the same period last year.

Return to shopping ‘little and often

Kantar Worldpanel insight director Georgieann Harrington said the average spend per household has increased €27 this year, largely thanks to an increased number of shopping trips. But while the average household has made 62 visits on average over the past 12 weeks, compared with 58 trips last year, the number of items per basket has fallen

And though the grocery market is in growth, the landscape remains competitive, she said.

Most major Irish retailers see sales rises

With the exception of Tesco, all of the major retailers in Ireland saw increased sales in the past 12 weeks.

Dunnes Stores had the strongest performance, growing sales by 5.9%, attracting an extra 13,000 shoppers to its stores this year with the average spend up nearly €20. Lidl logged the second highest sales growth – 5.8% – mainly due to attracting 55,000 more shoppers. Aldi’s sales grew 3.6% in the latest quarter, with the discounter also recruiting an impressive 37,000 customers versus last year.

SuperValu retained its position as Ireland’s largest retailer, growing its sales by 1.4% and capturing 22.6% of market share. Harrington said SuperValu’s success is largely down to persuading the average shopper to spend an extra €14 per trip, no doubt driven by its ‘Let’s Get Cooking’ campaign.

“Sales remain challenging for Tesco in second place: the retailer saw a decline of 2.7% in the past 12 weeks. It’s not all bad news for Ireland’s number two retailer though, with the number of visits to its stores edging up: from 14 on average last year to 15 this year,” she said.


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Record numbers shop at Lidl in Ireland

The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, published today for the 12 weeks ending 22 May 2016, show a strong sales boost for the grocery market with sales increasing by 4.0% compared with last year.

Kantar Worldpanel’s latest supermarket share figures for – for the 12 weeks to May 22 – show a strong sales boost for the grocery market with sales increasing by 4.0% compared with last year, the global expert in shoppers’ behaviour reports.

Kantar Worldpanel director David Berry said the data shows consumers are making more frequent visits to supermarkets, averaging an additional four trips in the latest 12 weeks compared with last year. “Coupled with increased prices this means that the average household is spending an additional €50 on groceries this year, amounting to an extra €89 million for the market.”

In terms of grocery market share for the latest 12 week period, SuperValu, which enjoyed its tenth consecutive period of growth, was in the lead – for the eighth month in a row – with a 22.7% share of the market. It was closely followed by Tesco with 22.4% and Dunnes with 21.4%. Berry noted Tesco saw its first growth in footfall in 10 periods, “suggesting its investment in keeping prices down may be starting to pay off.”

“Lidl continues to post impressive sales growth as more consumers choose to shop with the retailer – a record 72.4% of all Irish households shopped in a Lidl store in the last quarter, widening the gap between it and rival discounter Aldi. Sales growth for Aldi stands at 2.4% in the latest quarter – a positive step up from the previous results for April and an early sign that sales growth might be starting to improve again,” he said.


source: ​Grocery spend continues to rise, record numbers shop at Lidl, 07/06/2016, Kantar Worldpanel Ireland


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How to win in both online & conventional retail

Eurofresh Distribution editor Pierre Escodo's latest editorial looks at critical factors for success in both conventional and e-retail.

Fruit and vegetable consumption may be declining in Europe but as highlighted at the ‘Tomatoes, trends towards 2020’ conference in Antwerp in April, the market value of tomatoes has nevertheless risen.

The reality is that sales can be boosted via tastier, more convenient varieties that increase consumer satisfaction.

And more sales can also be achieved through online shopping.

In Europe, Denmark is one country where e-commerce is truly booming for fresh food, such as seen with the success of, and in Asia, Japan – where online sales are growing at double digit rates – reveals that it’s not just young people but also seniors that supermarkets should cater to with their online platforms, including mobile retail.

Adapting online shopping to consumer needs is crucial to success, and entertainment is a factor that also needs to be considered, advises Kantar WorldPanel in its recent report on the growth of e-commerce in FMCG. Interestingly, its data shows that in the UK, tomato products form the category with the second highest online share, and in France, soups are top-ranked.

From the pen of editor Pierre Escodo on page 3 of edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read it online here.

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Direct sourcing is key for IPL and ASDA

IPL applies a direct sourcing model where the lines are kept as short as possible. It operates many processing facilities in the UK and abroad, including for potatoes, bananas and meat. It is Asda’s sole supplier for various products, including fresh produce.

As well as being the biggest single importer of produce in the UK, Asda subsidiary International Procurement & Logistics (IPL) – the UK retail chain’s sourcing and procurement arm – is involved in exports. IPL Export, its export operation, supports the direct import strategies of Asda-owner Walmart as well as Sam’s Club, its retail warehouse chain. Dutch aubergines and Spanish olive oil for Canada, UK beer for the Japanese market and milk from Yorkshire for China are just some examples of IPL Export’s activities.

And upstreaming is another of the operations it carries out for Walmart. “We are building an IPL structure in Walmart and Sam’s Club,” said IPL technical team leader Bas Tramper, during the international conference on ‘Tomatoes, trends towards 2020’ held 13 to15 April 2016 in Antwerp.”In multiple locations there are IPL structures supplying and buying, like in the UK. We are working on the same basics as we do in the UK.” The activities covered span produce, meat and bakery facilities and structures are now also being created in Japan and Mexico.

IPL’s direct sourcing model

IPL applies a direct sourcing model where the lines are kept as short as possible. It operates many processing facilities in the UK and abroad, including for potatoes, bananas and meat. It is Asda’s sole supplier for various products, including fresh produce. Its sourcing method depends on how big a product is. A small line can be bought straight from a marketing organisation.

“But a product like tomatoes we buy as deep as possible to guarantee freshness, better quality and lower costs,” Tramper said. On the supply chain, IPL cuts out the exporter, transporter and packer, delivering the goods directly to Asda and bringing in expertise and leverage. “It brings a lot of added value.”

IPL has offices all over the globe to ensure the best sources in which value, quality and availability are important aspects. Tramper said a fall in complaints to Asda about fruit and vegetables illustrates the success of the direct sourcing model.

“This number is decreasing year after year,” he said. Indeed there was an impressive 65% reduction between 2009 and 2015. Conducted at Asda’s request by Cambridge university, there is also continuous assessment of the quality Asda delivers, relative to that of its competitors. Asda appears to be the best in the market overall and continues to improve its performance.

However, consumer perception is another story. Tramper explained that from a historic point of view, customers had the perception that the quality of Asda’s products was not top level. “It takes years and years to improve your image on that,” he said, stressing that quality improvement needs to occur on a daily basis and the continuous measurement of performance is key.

Tomatoes, the strategic category of the season

The assortment of tomatoes Asda offers is specific to the tastes of UK consumers, who generally perceive that a tomato should be both round and red. Another important factor to take into account is the low average income in the UK, explained Tramper. Asda focuses on the lower price segment and has a market share of around 17%. The tomato assortment is differentiated into three price categories: the extra special, a very nice tomato with attractive packaging, which is 15% of the total; the Asda brand, with 84% by far the largest and most important category; and the value pack, which accounts for just 1% of the units sold. The extra special tomatoes do not yet have a significant volume but sales are slowly rising, Tramper said.

Within this price differentiation there are different types of tomatoes of which the extra special varieties have the largest share with 35% of the units sold. “There are about 21 SKUs and yes, we are reducing the number of SKUs,” he said. Within this segment there is overlap in varieties. Different types of tomatoes have been ruled out as a result. ”We have ruled out the cocktail tomatoes because there was no sales for that.” Reducing more types will result in better choice for the customer as it is better not to make it “too difficult” for the customer, Tramper believes. Next are the loose round tomatoes (30%), cherry tomatoes (20%) and large tomatoes on the vine – where tasty varieties are also selected – accounting for 15% of the units sold.

Tramper expects the loose round tomato in a six pack to remain a very important category to Asda, since the volume is 30% of the units sold and it represents only 1 SKU. But the focus will be on how to improve the experience of the customer and with that stimulate repeat purchases. Where the extra special tomato is concerned, it is expected that over the next 4-5 years the assortment will take a different shape with less types. Tramper stresses that the optimisation of the tomato assortment should take place together with the breeders and will be an ongoing process.

Asda and IPL at a glance

Asda was formed when two separate companies, Associated Dairies and the Asquith brothers’ supermarket chain Queen’s, came together in 1965. Asda Stores Ltd was created, a supermarket committed to offering its customers ‘permanently low prices’. In 1999, Asda was acquired by Walmart Stores Inc., becoming part of the world’s biggest retailer.

Since then, Asda has become Britain’s second largest supermarket and its mission is to be nation’s most trusted retailer. Asda also holds a leading position in the UK clothing market with the George clothing brand and is increasingly making inroads into the UK’s general merchandise sector.

IPL was founded at Asda’s request and since 2009 has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Asda. IPL focuses on its role as Asda’s largest supplier. It also sources products for other Walmart markets. IPL operates various processing facilities in the UK and has multiple overseas offices.




  • Total number of stores 616
  • Includes: Supercentres 32, Superstores 332, Asda Living stores 34, Supermarkets 201, Standalone petrol stations 15
  • Customers on an annual basis: Over 936 million
  • Number of employees: 172,000
  • Focus: Permanently low prices


Source of slides: Bas Tramper presentation on trends in tomato consumption and sales
Other images: IPL/Asda


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Waitrose plans to open 14 new branches in 2016

Waitrose expects to create 1,500 jobs in new branches and its e-commerce grocery depot in 2016.

Waitrose is to open 14 new shops across the UK from spring next year, including five new supermarkets and nine new little Waitrose convenience shops.

It will also create up to 200 roles in its e-commerce fulfilment centre in Coulsdon, South London, to service its expanding number of branches.

In a press release, the UK supermarket chain said the supermarkets already confirmed include High Wycombe (Buckinghamshire), Uttoxeter (Staffordshire) and Solihull (West Midlands), which will all open in spring, and Truro (Cornwall) and Worcester, which will open in summer.  

It will also add new little Waitrose shops in the South Bank Tower in central London and Leatherhead in Surrey during the summer and has plans for seven more convenience branches in new locations throughout next year.

Juice bars, areas for grazing and informal dining, wine bars and welcome desks are among the concepts Waitrose said it aims to introduce more of in the new stores, “to deliver the modern Waitrose shopping experience.”

It already has eight shops with a juice bar and five shops with a wine and beer bar and recently became the first national supermarket to install a counter for freshly made sushi in its shops with the launch of sushi counters in its Battersea Nine Elms and Bath branches (in partnership with Kelly Deli).

Waitrose director of development, Nigel Keen, said many of the new shops will “go beyond the traditional supermarket, delivering exciting modern shopping experiences, which tap into the growing demand for grazing and casual dining.”

“At a time when many retailers’ estates are contracting, we are delighted to be opening new shops around the country,” he said.

The new outlets will give Waitrose almost 200,000 sq ft more selling space.

Its 80,000 sq ft e-commerce grocery depot in Coulsdon opened in 2015 to allow the supermarket to build its online capacity. The multi million pound centre will eventually fulfill 20,000 orders a week or over 1 million orders a year for Waitrose customers living within the M25. It already employs almost 400 people and once fully operational expects to employ more than 700.

Waitrose currently has 346 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 62 convenience branches.

Its omnichannel business includes the online grocery service,, through which customers can choose to have their shopping delivered direct to their home or collect items from their local branch with a Click & Collect service.

Read more articles about Waitrose:

Images: Waitrose

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German discounters now command a tenth of British grocery sales

Discount retailers Aldi and Lidl have reached a combined 10% share of the British grocery market for the first time, new grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks to November 8, 2015, show.

Discount retailers Aldi and Lidl have reached a combined 10% share of the British grocery market for the first time, new grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel reveal.

The data, for the 12 weeks to November 8, show Lidl’s market share reached a new record high of 4.4%, up 0.7 percentage points on last year thanks to 19% sales growth. Aldi grew sales by 16.5%, keeping its market share at 5.6% for the fifth consecutive month.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, said the discounters show no sign of stopping and with plans to open hundreds of stores between them will further widen their reach to the British population.

“If you look back as recently as 2012, Aldi and Lidl only held a 5% share of the market, and it had previously taken them nine years to double their combined share from 2.5%. In the last 12 weeks the two retailers have attracted another additional million shoppers compared with last year while average spend per trip has increased by 4% to £18.85, which is 78p ahead of the total retailer average,” McKevitt said.

Other highlights from the latest data:

  • Sainsbury’s: has seen its fourth consecutive period of growth despite the tough market, with sales up 1.5%
  • Tesco: sales were down by 2.5%
  • Morrisons: sales fell 1.7%
  • Asda: sales dropped 3.5%
  • Waitrose: sales up 2.7%
  • The Co-operative: sales up 1.5% & a 0.1 percentage point gain in market share

Shoppers paying less

Grocery inflation stood at -1.7% for the 12 weeks to November 8, which means shoppers are now paying less for a representative basket of groceries than they did in 2014. “This is the same fall as reported last month. Falling prices reflect the impact of Aldi and Lidl and the market’s competitive response, as well as deflation in some major categories including eggs, butter, bread, crisps and fresh poultry,” Kantar Worldpanel reported.