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Reasons To Be Cheerful As Early Easter Boosts Supermarket Sales
The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 27 March show the fastest growth the sector has seen all year. Supermarket sales have grown by 1.1% compared with the same period last year.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, comments: “An early Easter gave the market a sales boost of £152 million compared to last year, adding 0.6% to the overall growth rate. Britain’s love of all things sweet was in evidence, with 63% of households buying at least one chocolate egg during March, spending an average of £12 over the month. Over half of the population bought hot cross buns, while 15% purchased a fresh leg of lamb for their Easter celebrations.”
The Co-operative saw sales increase by 3.9% – its fastest growth since the Somerfield acquisition in 2011 – increasing its market share by 0.1 percentage points to 6.1%. Heeding the retailer’s call for a ‘little and often’ approach to shopping, consumers have been visiting The Co-operative’s stores more frequently, especially for fresh food and own label products. Many of its shops remained open on Easter Sunday, providing an additional opportunity to shop when many larger supermarkets were closed.
Sainsbury’s February announcement that it is scaling back multi-buy promotions hasn’t dampened performance at the retailer, which continued to lead the big four with a sales increase of 1.2%. Spend on deals in Sainsbury’s which require consumers to buy two or more items together fell by 73%, with shoppers instead purchasing a price-cut promotion or paying full price.
Shoppers continue to benefit from falling grocery prices, with like-for-like prices 1.5% lower than this time last year. Fraser McKevitt continues: “While saving money on the basics, consumers are not averse to treating themselves. Premium own label sales grew by 6.6% in the past 12 weeks, well ahead of the overall grocery market. Aldi and Lidl are leading the way, growing their premium lines more than twice as quickly as the rest of their ranges, but we’ve seen this across the retail spectrum – from Morrisons and The Co-operative to the likes of Waitrose, whose forthcoming launch of Waitrose 1 is the latest attempt by a traditional grocer to reclaim sales from the discounters.”
For the fourth month in a row Tesco’s decline lessened, with sales now down by only -0.2% year-on-year. Fraser McKevitt continues: “A small increase in shopper numbers suggests Tesco could return to growth in the next few months; welcome news after 12 months in decline. Partly hindered by previously announced store closures, Tesco’s market share fell by 0.3 percentage points to 28.1%.
“Also feeling the impact of operating fewer shops, Morrisons saw sales fall by 2.4%, an improvement on last month, while its market share decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 10.5%.”
Elsewhere Lidl retained their place as the fastest growing supermarket, increasing sales by 17.7% to capture 4.4% of the market, while Aldi grew sales by 14.4% to reach a new record-high market share of 6.0%.
Annual Food Industry Social Media Report – Food Businesses Still At Risk
Businesses in the food industry are still leaving themselves exposed to risk when it comes to social media.
That’s according to the 2015/16 Social Media at Work Survey conducted by specialist food lawyers Roythornes and marketing and PR agency, Pelican Communications.
Now in its fifth year, the survey - which polls a wide range of businesses in the food sector - asks about policies and practices in relation to social media use in the workplace.
This year’s results show that despite around 80% of businesses having some form of online presence, a staggering 26% have no policy in place on how social media should be used, leaving them wide open to reputation management issues.
In addition, the survey reveals that the number of firms allowing staff to use their own devices to carry out work-related social media activity has increased significantly from 30% in 2012 to 53% this year.
This increase, however, is not reflected in the number of companies introducing controls over what employees can do on social media channels while in the workplace.
Just 38% of businesses say they have policies governing use of personal devices in place.
Maz Dannourah, Associate at Roythornes, said organisations are leaving themselves open to reputational damage.
He said: “It’s great to see the large increase in the of businesses monitoring their online presence over the last four years; 90% of respondents now keep an eye on what is being said about them online compared to just 66% in 2012.
“However there is always room for improvement and I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of having quality policies and procedures.
“The cost of repairing reputational damage following an incident can often far outweigh that of ensuring preventative measures and appropriate protections are in place.”
As well as studying policies and procedures, the survey also looks at the food industry’s preferred social media channels.
Around 80% of companies now have a presence on Twitter while Facebook and LinkedIn are also extremely popular.
However, surprisingly few respondents said they used Instagram, despite its huge popularity with consumers.
Michael Bennett, Managing Director of Pelican Communications, said: “Food is an integral part of people’s daily social media activity and companies are using it more and more proactively to promote their brands.
“However, while we see wonderfully creative campaigns being created, the survey shows that many companies remain unprotected when it comes to policies and procedures.
“As social media becomes increasingly commercial and companies begin to use it as the central core of their promotional strategy, ensuring policies and procedures are in place is vital.
“It helps to not only ensure a strong and consistent brand image and voice, it also provides a vital safeguard in the case of misuse.”
Seaweed-Flavoured Food and Drink Launches Increased by 147%
Western consumers may be unfamiliar with eating seaweed outside of sushi or miso soup, but seaweed-flavoured food and drink are set to be the next big superfood trend in Europe. New research from Mintel reveals that food and drink product launches with seaweed flavours, including kombu, nori/laver, and wakame seaweed flavours, have increased by 147%* in Europe between 2011 and 2015. This growth means Europe is now the second most innovative region globally when it comes to seaweed-flavoured food and drink launches.
Indeed, while the majority of seaweed-flavoured food and drink products are currently launched in the Asia Pacific region, accounting for 88% of global product launches between 2011 and 2015, Europe launched 7% of seaweed-flavoured foods and drinks globally in this time, outpacing both North America (4%) and Latin America (1%).
Stephanie Mattucci, Global Food Science Analyst at Mintel, said:
“Seaweed has been a famous delicacy in many Asian countries for centuries, celebrated for its flavour and nourishing powers. While still somewhat niche in Europe, we believe that seaweed could become the next superfood. Due to its abundance in natural vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein, seaweed speaks to the growing quest for naturally functional foods and alternative protein sources in the West.”
Indeed, the health benefits of seaweed seem to appeal to European consumers, as Mintel research indicates that more than half (58%) of German consumers have either tried or would like to try algae as a protein source, with similar agreement reported in the UK (44%).
What's more, some 36% of UK consumers who use herbs, spices or seasonings agree that ground, dried seaweed would be a good alternative to salt for flavoring meals or dishes. Indeed this could also be of interest to the European consumers keen to cut back on salt. Today, 32% of German, 42% of Spanish, 46% of French, 48% of Italian and 57% of Polish consumers say they are actively reducing their consumption of, or avoiding, salty foods.
“As consumer demand for low-salt products grows, food and drink offerings that reduce the intake of dietary sodium are increasingly popular. Seaweed is not only a natural way to substitute salt, but also exhibits antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties which may lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, or aid in digestion and weight management.” Stephanie continued.
Snacks with seaweed flavour especially popular Seaweed's health halo presents a big opportunity for manufacturers in the West, especially in the snack category. Indeed, around one third of consumers in Italy (30%), Poland (36%) and Spain (37%) would like to see a wider variety of healthier snacks.
Consumer demand is mirrored in recent launch activity, as 37% of seaweed-flavoured food and drink launches in Europe between 2011 and 2015 took place in the snack category, according to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD). Other top categories for new product development in Europe include sauces and seasonings (12%), bakery (9%), and soup (8%).
However, Mintel research shows it's important that these products also tasty, as the majority of European snack consumers agree that taste is king: 56% of Italian, 57% of Spanish, 62% of French, 65% of Polish and seven out of ten (70%) German consumers** agree that flavour is more important than calorie content when indulging in a snack.
“The inherent health benefits in seaweed allow it to fit naturally into the healthy snack category. But even though consumers' interest in health-enhancing food continues to increase, seaweed snacks will need to deliver on flavor in order to be successful with Western consumers.” Stephanie concludes.