Fruit and vegetables enjoy growth despite ‘stocking up’ trend

Fresh fruit and vegetable producers are enjoying steady sales growth, despite the ‘stocking up’ approach currently being adopted by Irish consumers, say industry analysts.

Sales volumes of fresh fruit and vegetables are up 1.7% so far this year, and now account for almost 15% of total grocery spend in Ireland, according to the latest market surveys by Kantar Worldpanel. There are shifts when viewed from within some product and price categories, but overall this sector of fresh food is clearly seeing a lift.

Bord Bia horticulture manager Mike Neary notes: “In the year ending Sept 2013 the value of the fresh vegetable and potato category increased due to a higher average unit price, but volume is back when compared with the previous year. For the same period the value of fresh fruit sales has remained similar, but volume is up by 1.7% due to a rise in the volume purchased per buyer and an increase in the shopping frequency.”

The fresh produce category is valued at €1.25bn. The two most important product lines in the grocery basket (by value) are fresh fruit and vegetables, at a little over 14.7% of total grocery sales in Ireland.

The total grocery market in Ireland was valued at €8.99bn to the year ending mid-Sept 2013. This is an increase in value of 1.2% on the previous 12 months. Market volume was back slightly by 0.2%.

Meanwhile, Kantar’s latest review of the Irish grocery sector, covering the 12 weeks ending Oct 13, shows a slowdown in grocery market growth in the run-up to the recent budget.

Sales growth for the total market stood at 0.6% — its lowest level since June, as consumers tried to cut spending by shopping less often. This may also have been dictated by consumers’ desire to save on petrol. Fruit and veg sales kept their share of the overall spend, despite a ‘stocking up’ trend.

Kantar commercial director, David Berry, said: “Many of the grocery retailers have been actively targeting shoppers with money saving vouchers in recent months and this has led to a change in consumer shopping habits. Shoppers have switched from the ‘little and often’ approach to stocking up, making fewer trips, but buying more itemsper shop.”

Among the retailers, Dunnes’ ‘Shop and Save’ campaign has helped to drive sales growth of 5%, and boosted its market share by 1% point to 23%. Aldi and Lidl both continue to post impressive growth rates of 23% and 10.3% respectively, although their combined market share of 14.5% has dipped further below the record level of 15.1% achieved in August. SuperValu’s sales remain in line with last year’s performance with a slight dip in share, while sales at Superquinn have fallen by 1.8%.

Mr Berry added: “Tesco continues to feel the pressure, with sales declining by 6.5% and its market share dropping from 28.6% last year to 26.6% now.”


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