As part of our focus on all things fresh in store, Nielsen’s Nicole Farren takes a look at how supermarkets fresh food departments have been faring in the last 52-week period to 7 February 2021. We find out which counters are proving to be the best in fresh, and how Covid-19 has impacted the biggest value sector in multiples.
The value of ‘fresh food’ reached over €2.4 million in the latest 52 weeks, which was growth of 9.3% compared to the same period a year ago.
However, Covid-19 health concerns and social restrictions have resulted in slower growth in some fresh food sectors, including bakery and deli, which has meant that the growth of total fresh food in the latest 52 weeks has been behind the total multiple growth of 15%.
Fresh food is a key driver in store choice for consumers and is the biggest value sector in multiples in the Republic of Ireland, accounting for 36% of total sales in the latest 52 weeks. With levels of out of home entertainment low this year as a result of COVID-19, at home cooking and baking trends have become extremely popular, resulting in fresh food seeing strong year-on-year growth.
Chilled Convenience And Deli
As offices and schools throughout the country were closed for the majority of the latest 52 weeks, it is no surprise that chilled convenience and deli food is the only sector within fresh food in multiples to see value decline compared to a year ago. Sales fell by just over €9 million (-2.1%) in this period, resulting in total sales of €420 million. Deli sales drove this loss, with a value decline of -€23.5 million (-16%) in the latest 52 weeks, while chilled convenience saw market at 5%.
Within chilled convenience, the highest growth was seen in pre-packed sliced meat, which grew by €9 million (+10%) to €100 million, fresh meals, which grew by €3.4 million, and chilled pizza, which grew by €2.2 million.
A large decline in this category came from pre-packed sandwiches, which experienced a year-on-year value sales decline of €23.5 million (-16%).
Bread and cakes saw slow growth in multiples in the latest 52 weeks, with value sales growing by only 3.5% year-on-year, resulting in a sector value of €329 million. This growth was driven by packaged bread, with value sales of this category growing by 10% to €162 million in the latest 52 weeks, while packaged cakes saw a slight decline of 0.5% in the same period.
Health and hygiene concerns as a result of COVID-19 may have made shoppers reluctant to purchase loose products from in store bakeries this year, with value sales of fresh bread declining by 6% to €52 million, and fresh cakes by 8% to €47 million.
It is also possible that at home baking replaced in store bakery purchases this year, with sales of flour up by 79% in the latest 52 weeks, while liquid baking products and powdered baking products grew by 74% and 64% respectively.
Meat & Breakfast Meats
Despite 42% of Irish shoppers claiming that they reduced their meat consumption in 20201, increased levels of cooking at home this year, including barbecues and at home Easter and Christmas dinners, meant fresh meat and breakfast meats were the biggest contributor to fresh food sales in multiples in the latest 52 weeks.
The sector experienced value growth of 16% to over €600 million in this period, resulting in it accounting for 25% of total fresh food sales. Breakfast meats account for approximately 16% of meat and breakfast meat sales, and this category has seen very strong growth in the previous 52 weeks, with value sales growing above the total multiples market at 20%.
In the same period, fresh meats such as poultry, fresh fish and red meats have grown in line with the total multiple market, with each of these three categories growing by 15% compared to a year ago. For fresh fish, this 15% growth equated to an extra €11 million in sales in the latest 52 weeks, while poultry sales grew by €22 million.
Dairy & Eggs
When surveyed in 2020, 81% of Irish shoppers claimed to have purchased dairy products on their latest grocery trip.
With this in mind, it is unsurprising that the second highest contributor to the ‘fresh food’ sector in multiples is dairy and eggs, which reached value sales of €536 million in the latest 52 weeks, a value increase of 14% compared to a year ago.
Within this sector, milk accounts for almost 27% of total sales. However, milk value sales grew behind total dairy in the latest 52 weeks at 11%. Yogurts and yogurt drinks also grew behind the market this year, with sales increasing by 8%.
Though it is a small category, accounting for just under 4% of total dairy and egg sales, the rise in home cooking and home baking this year resulted in cream seeing extremely strong value growth, with sales up by 31% to €20 million.
In the latest 52 weeks, cheese saw a value sales increase of €16 million, resulting in the category now being worth €108 million and accounting for one fifth of all dairy and egg sales in multiples in the Republic of Ireland. Other categories that grew well in the 52-week period include eggs, which grew by 23%, and butter, which grew by 22%.
Fresh produce is an extremely important sector to Irish shoppers, and 38% claim that the range of fruit and vegetables that is available influences their choice of which retailer to shop at.
Fruit and vegetable value sales grew by 12% in the latest 52 weeks, and fresh produce is now worth €522 million, meaning that the sector accounted for over one fifth of total fresh food sales in multiples in the latest 52 weeks.
Vegetables account for most sales in this category, with value sales of €246 million in the latest 52 weeks, a value increase of 17% compared to a year ago. Within vegetables, the highest growth was seen in potatoes (+€7.9 million), onions (+€3.4 million) and peppers (+€3 million).
Fruit sales grew significantly below vegetable sales in the latest 52 weeks, with value sales only up by 7% compared to the previous year. However, the value of the fruit market is still robust at €242 million.
Grapes, bananas and blueberries were the highest growing fruit categories in terms of value sales, with each category growing by €3 million compared to a year ago. Pre-packed salads and pre-packed vegetables also showed growth this year, though growth was behind the total sector, at 5% and 8% respectively.
© 2021 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Nicole Farren. Click sign up to subscribe to Checkout.