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Morrisons Returns To Growth And Lidl Reaches New Share High
The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 24 May, show continued slow growth in the supermarket sector with sales increasing by just 0.2% compared to a year ago.
Morrisons was the only one of the big four retailers to see increased sales in the latest period, although its market share remained unchanged at 10.9%.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, explains: “Morrisons has returned to growth for the first time since December 2013 with a marginal sales increase of 0.1% – a welcome boost for new CEO David Potts. A committed core of loyal Morrisons consumers is responding positively to recent initiatives and business has been boosted by online sales. Morrisons’ performance is an improvement on what was a difficult May 2014, so this is only the first step in any future recovery.”
Sainsbury’s has also held its share at 16.5% despite sales falling by 0.3%. After an improved start to the year Tesco sales decreased by 1.3%, with its market share falling by 0.4 percentage points to 28.6%. Strong performance from the Tesco Express convenience stores and its online channel has not been enough to compensate for falling sales in the larger outlets. Asda sales were down by 2.4% with lower prices charged at the till not sufficiently offset by increased footfall.
Fraser McKevitt continues: “All of the major supermarkets are finding growth difficult as prices have been declining since September 2014. Yet while like-for-like groceries are 1.9% cheaper than this time last year this is not as steep a fall as last month, when prices were down by 2.1%. This means that if current trends continue, prices will once again start rising by the end of the year.”
Buoyed by a sales growth of 8.8% Lidl reached a new record high market share of 3.9%, up from 3.6% last year. Lidl’s growth has been fuelled by a combination of more consumers visiting the stores and the average basket containing more items, demonstrating a consumer willingness to move their bigger shopping trips to the so called ‘discounters’. Aldi also grew sales by 15.7%, taking share to 5.4% of the market.
As a result of sales growth of 1.6%, Waitrose has increased market share to 5.2%. This is helped by a regional bias towards southern Britain, where grocery sales are growing more quickly– particularly in London. Iceland also returned to growth for the first time in a year this period, increasing sales by 1.9%.
Eating Insects: Cultural And Individual Experiences Affect Perception And Acceptance
Although insects are not traditionally eaten in Western countries, other regions around the world have long considered them acceptable on the menu, EUFIC www.eufic.org writes.
A recent paper published in the journal Food Quality and Preference provides new insight into the way cultural background and individual experience may influence acceptance or rejection of edible insects. Study results show that overcoming existing negative perceptions of insects as food must be addressed if they are to be accepted by consumers who are not familiar with them.
In this cross-cultural qualitative study, researchers from University of Wageningen, Netherlands, and Kasetsart University, Thailand, analysed participants’ perceptions, expectations and preferences of various insect-based food items. In order to compare how this cultural exposure affected participant acceptance of eating insects, participants were recruited from the Netherlands, where insects are not ordinarily consumed, and Thailand, where they are frequently consumed. 29 participants from the Netherlands and 25 participants from Thailand (54 in total) were divided into 8 focus groups* based on their previous level of individual experience of eating insects, i.e. 4 groups of ‘eaters’ (2 Dutch groups and 2 Thai groups) and 4 groups of ‘non-eaters’ (2 Dutch groups and 2 Thai groups).
The focus group interviews took place in four stages: discussion of individual experiences and knowledge; discussion of reasons to eat or not to eat insects; evaluation of images of insect species and products; and optional tasting and evaluation of insect-based products. The researchers reported clear differences in motivation, which was dependent on participants’ country of origin. Thai eaters largely mentioned experience-based reasons, such as previous positive eating experiences or regular eating of insects by their families. The main reasons mentioned by Dutch participants were curiosity, nutritional benefits and sustainability considerations, for example high protein content or meat alternatives.
The researchers also observed a distinction between participants who classed themselves as ‘non-insect eaters’. While Dutch ‘non-eaters’ had simply never tried eating insects before, Thai ‘non-eaters’ had eaten insects in the past, but then actively chose not to eat them for personal reasons, such as allergies or disliking the taste. Thai participants were able to identify a wider range of edible species, which was due to their in-depth cultural exposure, rather than individual experience, compared to the Dutch participants.
Preparation methods and appearance of the finished product had a strong influence on participants’ expected ‘liking’ and ‘willingness to try’ attitudes towards a product. In general, reducing the visibility of the insect; i.e. coated or ground insects, increased Dutch participants and Thai ‘non-insect eaters’ willingness to taste them.
When the appearance of a product prompted negative visual associations, the participants were also less willing to taste the product. For example, participants commented that muffins containing mealworms (a type of insect larvae) looked rotten; therefore, participants’ attitude scores to the muffins were very low.
During tasting, Thai participants made fewer expressions of disgust and generally based their tasting decisions on which insects they had enjoyed eating in the past. Dutch participants, on the other hand, saw this as a rare and interesting opportunity to taste new foods, while simultaneously showing signs of hesitation or disgust before tasting. Also, Dutch non-insect eaters were more likely to taste a product following reassurances from participants who had already tasted it.
The authors concluded that insect-food product development will need to take both cultural and individual expectations into account for better chances of consumer acceptance; especially for those with no previous exposure to edible insects.
While European populations may be interested in the health and environmental benefits offered by edible insects, this may not be enough to overcome cultural and individual barriers to consumption. Visual and sensory properties must be carefully considered for acceptance of insects as a novel food source. Due to the limited sample size, it is not possible to draw conclusions on the opinion of the wider population. Future quantitative studies on larger groups of people could provide more in-depth insights into consumer preferences and behaviours.
For further information please see: Tan HSG, Fischer ARH, Tinchan P, et al. (2015). Insects as food: Exploring cultural exposure and individual experience as determinants of acceptance. Food Quality and Preference 42: 78-89. DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2015.01.013
Sugar And Carbs Behind Surge In Obesity Say Experts
Excess sugar and carbs, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity, say experts in an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine published online.
It’s time to bust the myth that anyone—and that includes athletes—can outrun a bad diet, they say.
Regular exercise is key to staving off serious disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, write the authors, but our calorie laden diets now generate more ill health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined. The evidence now suggests that up to 40% of those within a normal weight (BMI) range will none the less harbour harmful metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity.
But few people realise this, and many wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise, a perception that is firmly rooted in corporate marketing, say the authors. They describe the public relations tactics of the food industry as “chillingly similar to those of Big Tobacco,” which deployed denial, doubt, confusion and “bent scientists” to convince the public that smoking was not linked to lung cancer.
“Celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end,” they declare, adding that health clubs and gyms need to set an example by removing the sale of these products from their premises. “The ‘health halo’ legitimisation of nutritionally deficient products is misleading and unscientific,” they write.
Public health messaging has unhelpfully focused on maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting, but it’s the source of the calories that matters, they point out. “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or satiation,” they write.
The prevalence of diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed daily, compared with the equivalent amount of calories consumed as fat, they say. And the evidence now suggests that carbs are no better, they add. Recent research indicates that cutting down on dietary carbohydrate is the single most effective approach for reducing all of the features of the metabolic syndrome and should be the primary strategy for treating diabetes, with benefits occurring even in the absence of weight loss. Furthermore, other research suggests that rather than carbohydrate loading ahead of intense exercise, athletes would be better off adopting a high fat low carb diet, particularly those who are already insulin resistant. The food environment needs to be changed so that people automatically make healthy choices, suggest the authors. This “will have far greater impact on population health than counselling or education. Healthy choice must become the easy choice,” they say.
“It’s time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s public relations machinery. Let’s bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can’t outrun a bad diet,” they conclude.